Tomlin optimistic Troy Polamalu will play

Updated: November 29, 2011, 3:13 PM ET
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is cautiously optimistic that Troy Polamalu will play Sunday just days after the Pro Bowl safety suffered "concussion-like symptoms."

Polamalu took a blow to the head in the opening drive of Sunday night's game at Kansas City and didn't return. Tomlin said Polamalu was asymptomatic "relatively quickly" on Sunday night and hasn't had any concussion symptoms since the team returned to Pittsburgh.

"We anticipate it being a non-issue moving forward this week," Tomlin told reporters Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

Tomlin expects Polamalu will pass the series of tests in order to practice this week.

"All things are positive in terms of his potential participation this week," Tomlin said. "Obviously, we'll continue to err on the side of caution."

The Steelers (8-3) host the Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) on Sunday in a key AFC North matchup.

Polamalu has had a long history with concussions. He suffered two in high school and three at USC. It was only seven games ago when Polamalu left a game after taking a blow to the head.

When asked if Polamalu runs the risk of more concussions after sustaining one already this year, Tomlin said, "I don't have the answer to that. I'm not a medical expert. I think maybe those guys don't have the definitive answer to that. Obviously, we're sensitive to his concussion history. We're always going to exercise the necessary precaution when dealing with it."

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.

Polamalu has 44 tackles and seven passes defensed this season.

Tomlin also said outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) could return this week. "He's moving toward game-readiness," Tomlin said. "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.

Jamison Hensley covers the AFC North for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter