DETROIT -- Strong safety Troy Polamalu, the catalyst of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and a player who has emerged as one of the league's most versatile defenders, suffered an ankle injury during Thursday's practice and was forced to leave the session early.
The third-year veteran, who has been selected to the AFC Pro Bowl squad in each of the last two seasons, will be listed as "probable" on the Steelers' injury report. By definition, a "probable" listing on the report means that a player is 75 percent likely to participate in that week's game.
How the injury occurred is not yet known. Super Bowl practices are closed to the media, with the exception of one "pool" reporter. Polamalu told the pool reporter assigned to the Pittsburgh practice that he "tweaked" the ankle. The incident was not noted on an original practice report filed early in the evening, but it is believed the NFL was revising it.
Polamalu did appear on the official injury report as having missed at least a portion of the so-called "team," or 11-on-11, drills. Sources said that Polamalu began treatments for the ankle injury immediately after the practice. It is not known if he will participate in the Friday practice.
Losing their star strong safety, or perhaps even having him forced to play at less than 100 percent, would be a significant setback for the Steelers. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau designs many of his most exotic defensive gambits, both blitzes and coverages, around Polamalu and his unique skill set.
Polamalu had 100 tackles during the season, third most on the team, two interceptions, 11 passes defensed, one forced fumble and three recoveries. If possible, he has raised the level of his performance in the postseason, and has 19 tackles, one interception, three passes defensed and one-half sack.
Starting fullback Dan Kreider (knee) and reserve defensive lineman Travis Kirschke (groin), missed practice again on Thursday, and both remain "questionable" on the NFL injury report. Of the two, it is believed that Kreider, the lone fullback on the Pittsburgh roster, has the better chance of playing