As if the Ravens offense didn’t have enough to worry about in Sunday’s showdown against the NFL’s top-ranked defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers might just welcome back a seven-time Pro Bowler to the fold.
Strong safety Troy Polamalu fully participated in Wednesday’s practice, his first since straining his right calf during a 16-14 win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 7. It would appear that the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 is moving forward towards returning for Sunday’s contest at M&T; Bank Stadium.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco discussed the possible addition of Polamalu to a defense that already ranks as the stingiest against the pass this season.
“Troy is a great player, and he has his little things,” Flacco said Wednesday. “He just has a good knack for the game of football. He usually can figure out where the ball is going. He just has a feel for the game. While you try to combat that and account for him, there is always a certain amount that you really can’t account for what he is going to do. So you just have to go out there, play your game and take care of him by playing sound, fundamental football.”
Polamalu has posted some of his best performances against the Ravens. His 21 career tackles against the Ravens are the second-most against an opponent (he has made 22 tackles against the Cincinnati Bengals).
Polamalu intercepted a Flacco pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to cement a 23-14 victory in the AFC championship game on January 18, 2009. And he sacked and stripped Flacco to set up a game-winning touchdown in a 13-10 win on Dec. 5, 2010.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said keeping an eye on Polamalu is critical to the offense's success on Sunday.
“Obviously, with Troy, you have to be aware of him at all times,” Harbaugh said. “They’ve done a great job of playing defense back there without Troy. So, you add a guy like that in the mix, obviously, what a factor that can be.”