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Insider Only Thursday Practice Notebook: McFadden & Polamalu return to practice

By Dale Grdnic
As expected cornerback Bryant McFadden and strong safety Troy Polamalu practiced Thursday after basically sitting out for two weeks following the Steelers win at Cleveland in the regular-season finale.
McFadden, who has been dogged by hamstring and hip-pointer problems late this season, also suffered an abdomen injury.
“I feel OK, but…..

“the big thing is that I didn’t have any setbacks,” McFadden said. “I’m about to go in there and get some treatment, rest up and go at it again (Friday) to get ready for the game. But things are looking pretty good right now for me to be ready to go on Saturday against the Ravens.
“At this point in the season, it’s not like we’re putting in a whole new defense or playing a team that we’ve never played before. So, I’ve put in all the study time that I can, but only the repetitions on the field haven’t been there. They’ve been mostly mental reps, but that’s real important, too.”
“We’re very familiar with them,” McFadden added. “We’ve probably watched every game that they’ve played this season, and we’ve played against them twice. I’d say we have a good grasp on what they’re going to do and even what they’ll try to do against us, and I’m more than sure we’ll be ready for it.”
Polamalu was unavailable for comment, because he spent all his post-practice time in the trainer’s room getting treatment on his injured lower right leg. This regimen — practicing the last day in the week and then playing in the game — has been a regular occurrence for him in the latter part of this season.
And with all the rest he received down the stretch, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t play against the Ravens or that he won’t play at a high level. Aaron Smith is another story. The veteran defensive end won’t get the results of an MRI on his right triceps until Friday, so his status is in question.
“I would love to play, but it depends on what the staff and doctors think,” Smith said. “I’ve been doing this for 12 years of my life, so I think I can go out there and do it (without practicing).
“I believe 100 percent in my heart that I still can go out there and play football. I wish I was back yesterday, but I’ll just wait for the test results. And then we’ll go on from there.”
Special Guest Visitor To Practice
Bill Cowher, the former Steelers head coach turned NFL analyst for CBS-TV pre-game show NFL Today, stopped by Thursday to watch practice. Smith was among the Steelers players to greet and shake hands with Cowher.
“It was weird, but it was good,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him, and it looks like he’s doing well. What happened was that we just wished the best for each other. We really didn’t talk much football.”
Cowher also interviewed some Steelers for the network’s pre-game show Saturday afternoon.

About The Author

Dale Grdnic

TIOPS Steelers Beat Writer

Dale Grdnic is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Football. Dale has covered the Pittsburgh Sports scene for over 15 years with various publications

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