So far, so good for Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who looks as though he might finally have the calf problem that has plagued him for the last four seasons behind him.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked Tuesday during his press conference if this year’s version of Polamalu looks better than he has in previous years and while the Steelers head coach said he’s not into playing the comparison game; he did sound upbeat about where his safety is at right now health wise.
“He’s really had a good preseason,” said Tomlin. “I really don’t compare him to in the past. I really just look at their readiness relative to what we need him to be right now and man, he fits the bill. It’s been a good preseason and training camp for him.”
Polamalu talked during the offseason about how he had been working with a new physical therapist in an effort to break down the scar tissue that had built up in his calves. That therapy included some intense massages, that according to Judy Battista of NFL.com, weren’t very relaxing.
“You get used to the pain,” Polamalu told Battista a few weeks ago. “People have to do it with knee injuries. This is what every football player goes through when they get a massage.”
The Steelers let both of their experienced backup safeties go during the offseason as Will Allen and Ryan Mundy signed elsewhere during free agency. Mundy wasn’t a loss, but Allen did play well last season when Polamalu was out injured.
This season, the Steelers have young safeties Shamarko Thomas, DaMon Cromartie-Smith and Robert Golden backing up Polamalu and Ryan Clark, so it is imperative that both stay healthy this year. While Thomas figures to be the heir apparent to Polamalu, he still needs to develop some before he can be expected to start and play well.
In addition to everything else, if Polamalu is unable to stay healthy this season; the Steelers might have no choice but to release him next offseason because of what he is scheduled to earn in 2014, the final year of his contract.
Polamalu has played in 14 or more regular season games just three times in the last seven seasons, and the Steelers defense will surely suffer if that number doesn’t become four in 2013.