James Harrison, Troy Polamalu granted practice exception

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin still isn't sure when injured defensive stars James Harrison or Troy Polamalu are going to be healthy enough to play.

The Pittsburgh Steelers coach isn't against amending one of his longtime rules either, if it means one or both of his perennial All-Pros will be on the field against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

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Harrison, who is recovering from right knee surgery, and Polamalu, who is dealing with a strained right calf, will have informal workouts this week.

Tomlin hinted Tuesday that neither veteran would have to practice to face the Raiders (0-2). Traditionally Tomlin likes his players to get at least one day of training in during the week leading up to a game before letting them loose on Sunday.

He's willing to make an exception, however, for two cornerstones of Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense.

"I handle all of those situations really on a case-by-case basis," Tomlin said, "with the understanding that the younger you are, the more inexperienced you are, the more practices are necessary before I consider utilizing you."

Meaning the well-established Harrison or Polamalu might not have to see the practice field. Harrison hasn't played since a playoff loss in Denver nine months ago, while Polamalu's calf didn't respond quickly to treatment last week after sustaining the injury in a season-opening loss to the Broncos.

The duo hardly was needed in a 27-10 romp over the New York Jets on Sunday. The Steelers (1-1) shut down New York in the second half, holding the Jets to just 91 yards over the final two quarters to win going away.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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