NFL Nation: Troy Polamalu

ATLANTA -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Pittsburgh Steelers' 27-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome:
  • The Steelers’ final road game of the regular season seemed like a home contest at times -- and the players and coaches noticed. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Steeler Nation,” coach Mike Tomlin said after the Steelers improved to 9-5. “They were special in the building today. We are used to seeing it, but it never gets old. Terrible Towel-waving fans were noticeably loud -- whether Steelers players were trotting onto the field for pregame warm-ups or the Steelers were making a big play on offense or defense. Steelers fans were loud enough that some of the Falcons players were asked if they felt like they had a home-field advantage Sunday. “I know that Pittsburgh fans travel well since I am from Philadelphia and I know that Philly fans travel well, too,” Falcons cornerback Robert McClain said. “The fans were there for us. We did not execute.”
  • Worilds
    The Steelers were generally tight-lipped about a penalty that went against outside linebacker Jason Worilds and helped the Falcons get back into the game. With the Steelers leading 13-0 in the second quarter, Worilds sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for an 11-yard loss. The play was wiped out, however, after Worilds was called for roughing the passer, even though it appeared to be a legal hit. Three plays later, Ryan threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Devin Hester. Worilds declined to answer questions about the call after the game. So did Tomlin. “I’m not going to talk about that call because it was horrendous,” Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward said. The Falcons weren’t entirely happy with the officiating, either. A questionable holding call on Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant with just over three minutes left in the game saved the Steelers from punting. And the Steelers were able to run out the rest of the clock. “You guys question a number of things. We have the same thing about the game as well, and officiating is one [part] of it,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said after his team fell to 5-9. “Unfortunately that’s not anything that we can talk about as the head coach in the National Football League.”
  • Several Steelers sustained minor injuries during the game, including inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (back), strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee) and free safety Mike Mitchell (groin). All, however, returned to the game. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert missed his third consecutive game despite practicing every day last week. Gilbert, who is working through ankle and knee injuries, had been listed as probable on the Steelers’ final injury report of last week. Tomlin said Gilbert did not have a setback Saturday that caused him to miss the Falcons game but that, “We’ve got to go with the most healthy bodies.”
PITTSBURGH -- Fantasy owners couldn't have been happy. But New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was perfectly content after he didn't catch a pass -- or even get targeted -- in the Saints' 35-32 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Drew Brees wound up throwing touchdown passes to five different receivers, making the Steelers pay for putting such an emphasis on Graham.

"For me, it's all about the W's. I don't care if it's zero catches, 10 catches or 20, as long as we win," insisted Graham, who explained that the Steelers tried several different tactics against him -- including one he had rarely seen.

Graham said Pittsburgh safeties Troy Polamalu and Will Allen were undercutting most of his routes -- sometimes breaking even before he did.

"Usually, they wait 'til I break. But he's a smart player," Graham said of Polamalu. "And [Allen], he's a smart player too, he did it once or twice. I can tell that they're watching a lot of film and looking at tendencies and looking at formations and splits.

"But we'll watch film and we'll look at ways that we can expose that."

Graham also mentioned some of the more traditional approaches, where he'd get jammed or bumped at the line, with help waiting over the top.

Although Graham can sometimes be just as valuable as a "decoy" as an actual weapon (last year's playoff win at Philadelphia comes to mind), the Saints would obviously prefer to have him more involved in both capacities.

"We didn't come into the game with the idea that we weren't going to target Jimmy Graham," said coach Sean Payton, who insisted that Graham was a heavy part of the game plan Sunday and pointed out that Graham did draw one pass interference call.

"Somebody said after the game that Jimmy didn't have a catch, and I had to think because it sounded crazy to me," Brees said. "Because he is such a big part of the plan and is always targeted.

"Listen, though, we're never going to complain when we score 35 points and have no turnovers. I think we operated at a very efficient rate out there in both the run game and the pass game. The ball just happened to go other places today."

Steelers' defense no match for Saints

November, 30, 2014
Nov 30
7:20
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PITTSBURGH -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Pittsburgh Steelers' 35-32 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
    LeBeau
  • Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau looked a little dazed as he walked through a tunnel that led to the coaches and players' exit at Heinz Field -- and for good reason. Strong safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor returned to the starting lineup from their respective injuries, and Saints tight end Jimmy Graham did not catch a pass against the Steelers. That did not stop the Saints from lighting up the Steelers for 257 passing yards and 5.5 yards per carry. Polamalu said the Steelers did not pay too much attention to Graham, who did not have a pass thrown his way, at the expense of stopping the run. “Our game plan is always to stop the run first, and as you can see, when we don't do that, the floodgates open,” said Polamalu, who had missed the previous two games due to a sprained knee. The Saints rushed for 143 yards, including 122 from Mark Ingram.
  • Coach Mike Tomlin said during a brief -- and at times terse -- postgame news conference that the Steelers fell to 7-5 in large part because the offense and defense did not play well off each other. The offense managed just two field goals in the first 16 minutes of the game, despite dominating time of possession. The defense couldn't consistently get off the field any time the Steelers pulled closer to the Saints after New Orleans had seized control of the game. “This is an absolute team loss. It's not just on one person. We all didn't play well,” free safety Mike Mitchell said. “When we were getting stops, we weren't scoring. When we were scoring, we weren't getting stops.”
  • Le'Veon Bell became the first Steelers player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Rashard Mendenhall in 2010, and the second-year running back had another huge game from a statistical standpoint. In his first game since rushing for a career-high 204 yards, Bell established career bests in yards from scrimmage (254) and receiving yards (159). His running and especially his running after the catch were only enough for the Steelers to make the final score close. “We made a lot of mistakes. Turnovers were huge for us,” Bell said. “We've got to work on not hurting ourselves.”

The Film Don't Lie: Steelers

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
11:00
AM ET
A weekly look at what the Pittsburgh Steelers must fix:

Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger looked like anything but a rookie in throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns without taking a sack in a 27-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.

Imagine what a seasoned quarterback like the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees might do to the Steelers on Nov. 30 at Heinz Field following Pittsburgh’s bye week.

The Steelers did not consistently pressure Mettenberger, who was making his third start, even though they blitzed him often. He stepped up in the pocket with confidence and moved well in it even when the Steelers generated pressure from their outside linebackers.

The Steelers were credited with just five quarterback hurries against the Titans, and it’s not like they didn’t try to pressure Mettenberger. They sent five or more pass-rushers on 62.5 percent of Mettenberger’s dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information, their highest rate since a Dec. 19, 2011, loss at San Francisco.

The Steelers have to find a way to generate the kind of pass rush that consistently harassed the Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck and Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco in earlier wins.

The bye week provides extra time to heal for injured starters such as strong safety Troy Polamalu, linebacker Ryan Shazier and nose tackle Steve McLendon.

Getting Polamalu and Shazier back against the Saints would add speed and give Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau more flexibility as he tries to find a way to pressure Brees, who has been sacked just 13 times in 10 games.

The Steelers have to make Brees uncomfortable in the pocket by hitting him early and often.

If the perennial Pro Bowler gets as much time to throw as Mettenberger did Monday night, the Steelers may well have to win a shootout against a Saints team that is currently 4-6 but sure to play with a sense of urgency when it visits Pittsburgh.
PITTSBURGH -- Starting nose tackle Steve McLendon has been officially ruled out for the Pittsburgh Steelers' game against the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

McClendon
McClendon
McLendon did not practice all week after aggravating a shoulder injury that caused the fourth-year veteran to miss two games this season.

Rookie Daniel McCullers is expected to make his first career start in place of McLendon, and it will be something off a homecoming for the 6-foot-7, 352-pounder McCullers.

He played his college ball at the University of Tennessee before the Steelers took McCullers with the second of two sixth-round draft picks in May.

It will be interesting to see how many snaps McCullers plays against the 2-7 Titans.

Defensive end Cam Thomas will probably also play nose tackle at Tennessee. The Steelers could also use their nickel package in which the nose tackle comes off the field more.

In addition to McLendon, safety Shamarko Thomas will miss a third consecutive game because of a hamstring injury.

The Steelers are expected to get safety Ross Ventrone back after he missed the 20-13 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday because of a hamstring injury. Ventrone, who had filled in for Thomas on special teams, practiced all week.

He is listed as probable on the Steelers’ final injury report of the week, as is cornerback Cortez Allen (thumb). Allen was limited in drills on Friday, but practiced fully on Saturday.

The Steelers will be without strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee), linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) against the Titans.

All were ruled out earlier this week.
PITTSBURGH -- Jordan Dangerfield had been playing in the obscure FXFL before the Pittsburgh Steelers signed him to their practice squad this week.

Now it looks like the former Brooklyn Bolts safety will play in his first NFL game.

Polamalu
The Steelers are down to three safeties on their 53-man roster after they ruled out Ross Ventrone (hamstring) from playing Sunday against the New York Jets.

Troy Polamalu (knee) and Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) have also been ruled out of the 1 p.m. ET game at MetLife Stadium.

The lack of bodies behind starting free safety Mike Mitchell and strong safety Will Allen, who will fill in for Polamalu, makes it likely that the Steelers sign Dangerfield from the practice squad to provide depth and also play special teams.

Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was limited in practice because of a hamstring injury, though he is listed as probable for Sunday along with starting outside linebacker Jason Worilds (abdomen).

Worilds has practiced the past two days after sitting out drills on Wednesday.

Five Steelers have been ruled out because of injuries with linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) joining Polamalu, Thomas and Ventrone on the list.

My guess is the Steelers waive Ventrone with the intention of bringing him back and sign Dangerfield from the practice squad.

That would leave guard Chris Hubbard and quarterback Landry Jones as the Steelers’ healthy scratches, and either nose tackle Daniel McCullers or wide receiver Justin Brown.

I think Brown would get the nod over McCullers as far as getting a helmet on Sunday, because he can fill in on special teams if needed.
PITTSBURGH -- Seen and heard after the Pittsburgh Steelers' 43-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field:
  • Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had Joe Greene address the team before the game, and defensive end Cameron Heyward was among those ready to jump out of his cleats after hearing from one of the NFL's all-time greats. "That's one of my heroes," Heyward said. "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him, just because of the way he played the game. That's a role model you want to live up to." The Steelers officially retired Greene's No. 75 at halftime, and he picked the Ravens game as the one at which he received one of sports' ultimate honors. Tomlin declined to talk about what Greene told the Steelers' players. "Go out there, and play Steelers ball. That was basically his message," outside linebacker James Harrison said.
  • Polamalu
  • Strong safety Troy Polamalu did not play in the second half after he sprained his left knee late in the second quarter. Polamalu briefly returned after hopping off the field at the two-minute warning of the second quarter. Tomlin said he does not know if the eight-time Pro Bowler got an X-ray at halftime. "I just know that he wasn't able to continue, and it became pretty evident to us at the half," he said. Rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier left Heinz Field in a walking boot. Shazier hurt his right ankle and then re-injured it in the second quarter. The first-round pick did not play in the second half.
  • Rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant has five touchdown catches in his first three NFL games, and Tomlin said it is not hard to figure out why. "Antonio Brown is playing at a pretty high level and gets a lot of attention," Tomlin said, "and if you are just competent, you are going to get opportunities when you are on the field with him." Brown caught 11 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens. His 996 receiving yards lead the NFL.

The Film Don't Lie: Steelers

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
11:00
AM ET
A weekly look at what the Pittsburgh Steelers must fix.

Cornerback Cortez Allen’s regression continued against the Indianapolis Colts, and the fourth-year veteran got yanked from the Steelers’ 51-34 win after giving up a pair of touchdown passes.

The Steelers replaced Allen at nickelback with Antwon Blake, who could remain in that role for the foreseeable future, including Sunday night's prime-time matchup against the Ravens.

Blake intercepted Andrew Luck in the fourth quarter to help preserve the Steelers’ most impressive win of the season. Allen, meanwhile, looks completely lost.

T.Y. Hilton turned him around with a double move late in the second quarter, and the Colts wide receiver caught a 28-yard touchdown pass even though Allen had given him a healthy cushion.

Allen leads the Steelers with two interceptions but inconsistency led to the Steelers replacing the 6-foot-1, 196-pounder as a starter with Brice McCain. Now Allen may have to fight to win back the nickelback job from Blake, who has primarily played special teams since signing with the Steelers last season.

What is most problematic about Allen’s play is he has either not adjusted to the NFL’s emphasis on enforcing the illegal contact rule on defensive backs or the former fourth-round draft pick is too often grabbing receivers because he doesn’t trust his technique.

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel and starting safety Mike Mitchell did not practice on Thursday, but inside linebacker Ryan Shazier participated in drills on a limited basis for the second consecutive day.

Keisel
Keisel
Mitchell
Keisel and Mitchell are working their way back from knee injuries, and the latter said on Wednesday that he plans on playing Monday night against the Houston Texans.

Starting nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) have already been ruled out for the 8:30 p.m. ET game at Heinz Field.

In addition to Keisel and Mitchell, fullback Will Johnson did not practice on Thursday because of an illness. Strong safety Troy Polamalu was given a veteran’s day off.

Shazier, who has missed the past three games with a sprained knee, is still limited as he tries to work his work way back to the field.

Strong safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) and defensive end Cameron Heyward (ankle) were also limited in practice. Heyward has said he will play against the Texans.

In Houston, linebackers Jadeveon Clowney (knee), Brian Cushing (knee), and Brooks Reed (groin) did not practice because of injuries. Cornerback Darryl Morris (ankle) also missed drills.

Running back Arian Foster (groin), wide receiver Andre Johnson (ankle), cornerback Johnathan Joseph (knee) and linebackers Mike Mohamed (calf) and Jeff Tarpinian (knee) all practiced on a limited basis.
PITTSBURGH – NFL analyst Bill Cowher did not opt for subtlety or discretion in leveling his harshest criticism of the Pittsburgh Steelers since stepping down as the organization’s head coach following the 2006 season.

Cowher questioned the Steelers’ toughness on defense following Pittsburgh’s 31-10 loss at Cleveland on Sunday, and he did it on a national platform.

“I think they’re finesse on offense and soft on defense,” Cowher said late Sunday afternoon on CBS’ postgame show.

Cowher
Cowher’s critique should resonate for several reasons.

It is all but impossible to refute after the Steelers were embarrassed by the Browns and lost by at least 20 points for the second time this season. And this is not the case of a former head coach looking over his successor’s shoulder or angling for a job.

Cowher has been out of coaching for almost a decade and has shown no inclination to return to the sidelines. The Pittsburgh area native has generally refrained from criticizing Mike Tomlin, and Cowher has done anything but hover over the organization he guided on the field from 1992-2006.

Cowher went 161-99-1 in 15 seasons as the Steelers’ head coach, and he led the team to its fifth Super Bowl title in 2005.

Like Tomlin, Cowher was just 34 years old when the Steelers hired him as their head coach.

Cowher’s most trying stretch came from 1998-2000 when the Steelers missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons. The Steelers are in danger of matching that after going 8-8 in 2012-13 and starting 3-3 this season.

The Steelers stuck with Cowher and he rewarded their patience by leading them to the playoffs in four of the next five seasons as well as the Super Bowl win.

Seven of Tomlin’s assistants either coached with Cowher or played for him in Pittsburgh, including defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Seven current Steelers players also suited up for Cowher, including strong safety Troy Polamalu, outside linebacker James Harrison and defensive end Brett Keisel.

Cowher has been an analyst for CBS since leaving the Steelers.
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier practiced on a limited basis Thursday as he works his way back from a sprained knee.

Shazier is getting closer to returning to the field after missing the last two games, though the first-round draft pick is unlikely to play Sunday in Cleveland.

A more realistic date for Shazier to return is Oct. 20 when the Steelers host the Houston Texans for a "Monday Night Football" game.

Shazier practiced for the first time since hurting his right knee in a 37-19 win over the Carolina Panthers Sept. 21.

Safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) did not practice for the second consecutive day, all but ruling him out for the Steelers’ 1 p.m. ET game Sunday against the Browns. Cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) remains out indefinitely.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu was given practice off for the second consecutive day.
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers have gotten younger on defense, but they are still relying on a trio of players who were cornerstones of the teams that played in three Super Bowls from 2005-10.

Harrison
Harrison
 
Keisel
Keisel
 
Polamalu
  Outside linebacker James Harrison is already playing significant snaps even though the 36-year-old is still working his way into football shape. Defensive end Brett Keisel, who is also 36, leads the Steelers with 10 quarterback pressures and is playing over Cam Thomas in the nickel package.

And then there is Troy Polamalu, the pup, if you will, of the trio.

The veteran strong safety is third on the Steelers with 31 tackles, and the eight-time Pro Bowler has gotten better with each game. Polamalu, at the age of 33, is not the disruptive force he had been while winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2010.

But Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake sees Polamalu producing the big plays that have been his hallmark -- and doing it in bunches at some point this season.

“One thing I found out about Troy is just when you think, ‘Oh, he’s not really going to [do] that much this year,’ boom, he starts making plays just like he did last year,” Lake said. “He’s building. It’s like our team in general. The gears are turning.”

Harrison is the most unlikely of those gears.

Keisel and Polamalu helped talk Harrison out of retirement after starting outside linebacker Jarvis Jones went down in a 37-19 win over the Carolina Panthers last month with a dislocated wrist.

Harrison played almost 30 snaps in his first game back with the Steelers and 20 in the 17-9 win at Jacksonville last Sunday. Harrison dropped Jaguars running back Denard Robinson for a 2-yard loss the play before cornerback Brice McCain returned an interception for a touchdown.

“I’m not where I want to be right now but week in, week out it gets a little better,” Harrison said Thursday before practice. “We’ll see how far and how fast I progress.”

When asked if he is progressing slower than he had anticipated, Harrison said with his typical bluntness, “If you were trying to lose weight, you’re not going to lose all the weight you want to in two weeks are you? It takes time.”

Despite the process of working his way back into shape and playing a supporting role on defense, Harrison said he doesn’t regret coming out of retirement, even though he had been content to walk away from the game.

"Everything happens for a reason,” Harrison said. “I’m here because that’s what was meant to be. It’s the right decision.”
PITTSBURGH -- James Harrison walked through the locker room Wednesday after a practice that probably had him wondering several times why he had left the cocoon of retirement.

As he headed straight to where he used to dress, Harrison shook his head when he realized times had changed. He made a hard left turn to his new locker, which served as a reminder that this comeback will be a process.

The most immediate challenge Harrison faces is working his way into football shape, and the 36-year-old outside linebacker practiced Wednesday for the first time since January, when he was in his lone season with the Cincinnati Bengals. Noticeably spent following drills, Harrison said he might have to adjust the timetable he initially set for getting in optimum playing condition.

Harrison
Harrison
“Before, I said two or three weeks,” he said. “Now I’m looking at three or four weeks.”

The good news for the Steelers is they don’t need Harrison to come in and start at right outside linebacker -- or even log a lot of snaps, if Arthur Moats plays well there in place of the injured Jarvis Jones.

The role to be filled by the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is anybody's guess at this point, as Harrison acknowledged after his first practice since re-signing with the Steelers on Tuesday.

Harrison said he needs to drop about 10 pounds, but added that the weight will come off as he starts practicing on a regular basis again.

“I could gain all of the muscle I wanted when I was sitting on the couch,” he said.

Leaving the comfort of his couch to play one more NFL season -- and Harrison was adamant that this is it for him -- was not something he did on a whim.

“If my kids had said no, it wouldn’t have mattered how much I talked to [Brett] Keisel, Ike [Taylor] and Troy [Polamalu],” said Harrison, who has two young sons and officially retired earlier this month so he could spend more time with them. “It was a real difficult decision.”

Harrison had been happy in retirement and at peace walking away from football.

In the end, Harrison said, he couldn’t say no to what he referred to his “second family,” after Keisel, Polamalu, Taylor and coach Mike Tomlin gave the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker the hard sell to return to the team where he spent nine straight seasons.

“It’s hard to turn down family,” Harrison said. “The game itself I didn’t really miss. The only thing I really missed was the teammates, the camaraderie, being with the guys. We’ll see if the ending is good. Just being here is good. We’ll see if we can make it better.”

LeBeau still high on Steelers' safeties

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
6:00
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Troy Polamalu and Mike Mitchell have each accumulated a fair share of tackles, but neither has broken up a pass much less made a big play through the first two games of the season.

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said that will change.

Mitchell
Polamalu
"I think they’re going to give us one of the best safety combinations in the league," LeBeau said Thursday after practice. "I’ve said that all along. I still feel the same way. With the whole group we’ve got some new faces, and the sooner we can tie it all together, all 11 guys knowing where the other 10 are going to be, the sooner we’re going to get to looking like I want us to look."

LeBeau dismissed the notion that Mitchell, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract in March, is off to a slow start because he is getting used to playing with Polamalu.

"It’s still football," LeBeau said. "He’s in a new environment and a new system, and I think he’s only going to get better and better and more comfortable. But he’s always been a good football player and he’s playing good football right now."

The Steelers' defense has been anything but good following a strong first half in the season opener against the Browns.

The Steelers have given up 50 points in their past six quarters, and they haven’t been able to stop the run.

The Steelers are yielding 170.0 rushing yards per game, but LeBeau said the problems they had had stopping the run can be fixed.

"We’ve got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot. Most of the runs we have given up we haven’t gotten in our detailed assignments enough," LeBeau said. "The guys are working on that and we’ve got to get it done. You’re not going to give up those kinds of runs and be successful."
PITTSBURGH -- Recent player arrests and -- the NFL's response to ones related to domestic abuse and child abuse -- has led to an avalanche of criticism of the billion-dollar league.

But Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel defended the NFL and said the actions of a few are not representative of most of the players.

Keisel
Keisel
"There is a lot of negativity out right now in the league but I hang my hat on every day knowing there are a lot of good guys in this game, too," Keisel said on Monday. "There's a lot of guys that do the right thing, that act the right way, that are living productive and charitable lives. Negative news sells. It's the world we live in."

Negative news has engulfed the NFL since last Monday when TMZ released a video of Ray Rice punching his then fiancÚ and knocking her out in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, hotel elevator.

Rice was released by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. But an investigation has been commissioned to review the NFL's conduct in the Rice case.

Its handling of abuse cases has also been questioned following a bench conviction of Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy for assaulting his former girlfriend. Hardy played in Carolina's season opener but was deactivated Sunday as was Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson following his arrest late last week for child abuse.

The Vikings have said Peterson will play this week. Hardy is practicing this week, though his status for a Sunday night game against the Steelers has not been decided.

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu shrugged off a question about what impact the negative publicity has had on the NFL.

"To be honest, I don't pay attention to any (media coverage) whether it's good or bad," the eight-time Pro Bowler said. "I'm not concerned with the image of the league. That's what (NFL commissioner) Roger Goodell's concern is and the league owners' concern is. I am concerned with the image of this team and this organization and our program and whether we win or not."

Keisel and Polamalu are two of the Steelers' leaders and among their players who are most active in the community.

Both are past Steelers' winners of the Walter Payton Award, which recognizes players for their charitable contributions.

"There's a lot of guys in this locker room and locker rooms throughout the league that try and do the right thing," Keisel said. "That's really all I think about is making a positive impact when I can and being a good productive player at the same time."

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