- Scott Brown, ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter
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PITTSBURGH -- Troy Polamalu played every snap last season, and a significant number of those came at inside linebacker.
An early-season injury to Larry Foote forced the Pittsburgh Steelers to play Polamalu at inside linebacker in their dime defense. The eight-time Pro Bowler held up remarkably well, especially considering he had missed nine games in 2012 because of a calf injury.
Here's what bodes well for Polamalu also staying on the field this season, his 12th in the NFL: The strong safety won’t have to be pressed into duty at linebacker because of the Steelers’ depth at the position, and he said he actually feels “a little better” physically than he did at this point last year.
“Coach (Mike) Tomlin’s done a great job of taking care of me during this camp and I really appreciate it, as well as (defensive backs) coach (Carnell) Lake," said Polamalu, who has not played all 16 games in consecutive seasons since 2004-05. "But I was also able with my (physical) therapist and trainer to do more things than I’ve done in the past offseasons. Hopefully it correlates to the field.”
Tomlin held Polamalu out of tackling drills at training camp and also sat him for the Steelers’ preseason opener.
Polamalu played a little more than a quarter with the first-team defense in the Steelers’ 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills Saturday, and he recorded five tackles.
“It was nice to see some live action,” Polamalu said Saturday night after the Steelers had won their first preseason game since 2012. “I feel good.”