The four-time All Pro safety has played in only five quarters this season due to a strained right calf. He had not practiced since two days before a win over Philadelphia on Oct. 7, leaving in the first quarter of that game when he re-aggravated the injury after sitting out the two prior games.
''It was a Thanksgiving-Christmas gift to see him out there,'' said Polamalu's replacement, Will Allen.
Polamalu, however, was limited in Friday's practice and is considered doubtful to play Sunday when the Steelers (6-4) visit AFC North rival Cleveland (2-8).
Pittsburgh did receive some more encouraging news from another Pro Bowler. Receiver Antontio Brown indicated he was feeling better and is listed as questionable to play Sunday.
Brown has not played since sustaining an ankle injury during a win at the New York Giants on Nov. 5. He has practiced all week - albeit in a limited capacity.
With Brown's status in limbo and Jerricho Cotchery (ribs) already ruled out for Sunday, the Steelers signed veteran Plaxico Burress on Tuesday.
Running back Isaac Redman will play in Cleveland after passing all of his post-concussion tests following a hard hit in this past Sunday's loss to Baltimore.
''I'm good to go,'' Redman said. ''No more tests. I'm ready.''
The Steelers will start third-string quarterback Charlie Batch with Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich out because of shoulder and rib injuries.
Also out is right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who will miss his fifth consecutive game due to an ankle injury.
Defensive end Ziggy Hood said his injured back felt better as the week went on, and he is probable for the Browns game after fully practicing Friday.
Also considered probable for the Steelers are Allen, reserve linebacker Stevenson Sylvester and guard Willie Colon.