Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu is free of concussion symptoms and ”all things are positive” for the AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals, coach Mike Tomlin said during a press conference Tuesday.
Polamalu left Sunday’s 13-9 win at Kansas City when his helmet struck the knee of Steve Maneri while Polamalu dove to tackle the tackle-eligible. That marked the second time this season the reigning AP defensive player of the year was forced out of a game due to a blow to the head.
But Tomlin said Polamalu was ”asymptomatic…relatively quickly – and I’m talking about Sunday night.”
The Steelers (8-3) and Bengals (7-4), fighting for playoff positioning and chasing the first-place Baltimore Ravens (8-3), meet in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
”Troy hadn’t had any concussion symptoms since we’ve been back here,” Tomlin said. ”All things are positive in terms of his potential participation this week. Obviously, we’ll continue to err on the side of caution. He’ll have to pass a battery of tests and so forth in order to participate.
”We’re comfortable at this juncture that that will happen.”
Although Tomlin never acknowledged Polamalu indeed had been diagnosed with a concussion, the four-time All Pro has sustained at least seven concussions throughout his high school, collegiate and pro career.
He most recently missed the final two defensive series of a win over Jacksonville Oct. 16 due to concussion-like symptoms but returned the following week.
Polamalu has started every game this season. If he plays in Pittsburgh’s final five games, it would be only the second time since 2005 he did not miss a start due to injury.
Tomlin said Polamalu was lobbying to go back into the game soon after he left the field Sunday.
”Obviously, we’re sensitive to his concussion history,” Tomlin said, ”and we’re always going to exercise the necessary precaution when dealing with it.”
Polamalu has 44 tackles and seven passes defensed this season.
”We’ll lean on the expert advice of our medical staff,” Tomlin said. ”Troy’s been good. We anticipate it being a non-issue moving forward this week.”
Tomlin sounded optimistic about another former Pro Bowl member of the defense returning to action for the first time in more than a month. Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) was seen leaving the practice facility after a workout Tuesday, and Tomlin said he’s approaching game-readiness.
”We’ll watch him throughout the course of the week to solidify that,” Tomlin said. ”But we like where he is.”
A stomach virus forced Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey out of Sunday’s game early, and Tomlin said that might continue to affect the second-year pro in terms of practice participation.
”He’s dehydrated and has lost a significant amount of weight,” Tomlin said. ”We’ve just got to take care of that young man and make sure he’s pushing forward toward the weekend.”
A hamstring injury to veteran inside linebacker Larry Foote also could affect his availability.
The Steelers are tied with Baltimore for the division lead, but the Ravens hold the tiebreaker due to a sweep of the season series. The Bengals have lost two of their past three, including a 24-17 decision at home to Pittsburgh three weeks ago.