By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — Don’t get the wrong idea, Pittsburgh Steelers fans, Troy Polamalu wasn’t getting masochistic tendencies or anything like that.
But he still watched a replay of last season’s Super Bowl when Polamalu and the Steelers defense had little success stopping Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the Packers 31-25 victory in February.
“We gave up big plays on offense and on defense and had opportunities on both ends to gain some great momentum, but we just didn’t make it,” Polamalu said. “(But) last year is last year, and I’d say that whether we won or lost the game. There’s no need to dwell or to be excited about a game from the past.”
Polamalu is looking forward to the second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night at 8 at Heinz Field for several reasons. He wants to fine tune his tackling and reading his keys, especially since he hasn’t practiced a lot missed the opener for precautionary reasons.
But Polamalu has one main concern.
“Like everybody else,” Polamalu added, “I’m just trying to get out of it healthy … There are other things, but most importantly, it’s my health.”
Polamalu and outside linebacker James Harrison have practiced intermittently during training camp at Saint Vincent College, which is why neither played in the preseason opener at Washington. Harrison is still recovering from two back surgeries in the offseason.
And Polamalu is still rehabbing from his late-season Achilles injury. Polamalu is much healthier now than he was at the beginning of camp, and he hasn’t missed as many practices lately as he did in the opening two weeks.
“I feel great now, thank God, and Coach Tomlin has given me a lot of rest,” Polamalu said. “So, I continue to get healthy, and hopefully I’ll be ready to go on Thursday. (But)
a lot of our young guys got a chance to play with the first team due to us being so short-handed in the secondary with a lot of injuries.
“I wasn’t able to play with the first team until my second year here. So, the repetitions were great for them, and it’s great for this team that they were able to have that opportunity. It’s going to pay off down the road for everybody.”
If Polamalu can’t play, third-year player Ryan Mundy would start a second consecutive preseason game for the Steelers.
Another practice, another dust-up for Cam “Bam” Heyward, 2011 first-round draft pick and second-team defensive end for the Steelers.
Heyward battled Marcus Gilbert this time after scuffled with Ramon Foster and Jonathan Scott previously. While some applaud his feistiness, the Steelers have told him to settle down a bit, since the result in a game could be a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and possibly an ejection.
“But they expect me to go hard, and they love the intensity,” Heyward said after Tuesday’s final regular camp practice. “And at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to get better out here, but our egos get the best of us. We’re just trying to compete. … I’m trying to build on my performance last week.
“And I’m trying to do a better job. I thought my first time out there was terrible, so I’ve got a lot to prove. When you’re not hard on yourself, you’re not doing anything. You’re not getting better then, you’re getting worse. So, that’s the way I see it. I have a goal in mind, and I’m going to keep working toward it.”
Heyward probably will have to come off the bench against the Eagles, because Brett Keisel (right ankle) returned to practice after two straight days off and should start Thursday night. Aaron Smith (right knee), however, missed a third straight practice and likely will give way to third-year pro Ziggy Hood.
With starting cornerbacks Ike Taylor (left thumb surgery) and Bryant McFadden (quad, hamstring) out this week, fifth-year player William Gay and third-year pro Keenan Lewis are the likely starters against the Eagles.
Isaac Redman made a couple nice catches in team drills, one near the sideline and another in the flat in traffic. Redman could be a factor in the passing game during short-yardage and goal-line as well as being a hammer in the running game. Redman, you’ll remember, caught a short pass and ran it in for the deciding points in the win at Baltimore that clinched the division title last year.
Rookie safety Brett Greenwood from Iowa had the only interception on the day, as Byron Leftwich attempted to go long down the middle and threw into coverage.
Leftwich came back with a laser across the middle to Arnaz Battle, who pulled it in for his best catch on the day. Battle, who had a rough game at Washington, continued that futility early in practice before his big catch.
Notes: The final full practice Tuesday afternoon was held once again on the lower, Field Turf field, which means the Steelers practiced just five times on grass during this training camp due to rain or poor field conditions at Saint Vincent College or roughly one-third of the workouts. … Jeremy Kapinos, who nearly matched Daniel Sepulveda’s numbers at Washington, will get the starting nod this week. … But place-kicker Shaun Suisham missed another day due to an illness and could be replaced by first-year player Swayze Waters from UAB.