by JJ Cooper
The Steelers kept it a secret until now, but Troy Polamalu apparently was nearly sidelined last Sunday thanks to a strained calf.
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Polamalu pulled his calf during pre-game warmups. He spent nearly every minute until the start of the game getting treatment from Steelers' trainers that forced him to miss the pre-game introductions. Coach Mike Tomlin wasn't sure he'd be able to go until he saw him run onto the field.
Tomlin said that he expects Polamalu to be OK for Sunday's Ravens' game, although he will likely miss some practice time. The Ravens are not likely to feel sorry for the Steelers. While Polamalu and Justin Hartwig (minor knee injury) are the only two Steelers with significant injuries, the Ravens will have a long list of players on the injured list this week, thanks to a brutally physical game against the Titans.
If Polamalu wasn't able to play, Tyrone Carter would replace him. While Carter picked off two passed in the regular season finale against the Browns, he does very few of the things that Polamalu does, and would be especially unable to replace Polamalu's presence in the box on running plays.