Friday, December 17, 2010

Troy Polamalu Reportedly Will Miss Week 15 Game vs. Jets

The Steelers struggled without Troy Polamalu last season, missing the playoffs as their defensive star sat out 11 games with a knee injury. If Pittsburgh hopes to return to the postseason in 2010, it may have to find a way to win with Polamalu again on the sideline.

Polamalu, who aggravated a nagging lower-leg injury running back an interception for a touchdown in a Week 14 win over Cincinnati, is unlikely to play Sunday when Pittsburgh hosts theJets, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac reported that Polamalu sat out the Steelers' Wednesday and Thursday practices, and was expected to do the same Friday. Pittsburgh will release its final Week 15 injury report following Friday's practice. 

Will Allen, who has nine tackles this season, is listed behind Polamalu on the Steelers' depth chart.Ryan Mundy, who saw added minutes in Polamalu's absence last season, could also help fill in.

Neither would be able to come close to replacing Polamalu, arguably the most valuable player on Pittsburgh's roster. The 29-year-old Polamalu has 62 tackles, one sack and six interceptions this season. His lone sack helped deliver a critical Week 14 win over the Ravens -- with Pittsburgh trailing Baltimore late, Polamalu came untouched on a blitz and forced Ravens QB Joe Flacco to fumble, setting up the Steelers' game-winning touchdown. Last week, his interception return for a touchdown turned the momentum in Pittsburgh's game versus Cincinnati, and he helped seal that win with a second pick late.

Polamalu's loss could be just the break a struggling Jets offense needs Sunday. New York has no touchdowns and just nine total points in the last two weeks -- losses to New England, then Miami. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has come under increasing heat, with Jets coach Rex Ryan even revealing that he considered sitting Sanchez during the loss to Miami, in favor of veteran backup Mark Brunell.

The Steelers clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie Sunday, though they would also locked up a spot in the postseason if both the Colts and Chiefs lose. Pittsburgh could also wrap up the AFC North if it wins, Baltimore loses and the Steelers' clinch the strength-of-schedule edge over the Ravens.

Pittsburgh hosts Carolina next Thursday night, then closes the season in Week 17 at Cleveland.

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