Polamalu: Being healthy now is 'irrelevant'

PITTSBURGH -- I always enjoy my brief chats with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who always gives a different perspective on questions. When I saw reporters talking to him Wednesday, I approached him to ask how his health now compares to last year.

"If I had a time machine, I could explain how I felt back then," Polamalu said.

Since Polamalu couldn't summon H.G. Wells, he went on to say, "Standing right here, I feel good. But it's really irrelevant how I feel now. What's important is how I feel 16 games through the football season."

Staying healthy for an entire season has been a challenge for seven-time Pro Bowl player. Over the past seven seasons, Polamalu has only played in 16 games twice (2008 and 2011). He's missed 22 games over the past four seasons. A calf injury derailed Polamalu's season last year.

In May, Polamalu talked about how some injuries are avoidable. I asked him Wednesday if he still felt that way.

"Last year was a soft-tissue injury, which I believe is avoidable," he said. "All the other injuries were either head injuries or knee injuries, which were completely unavoidable."

Another interesting topic of discussion was linebacker James Harrison, who was cut by the Steelers and later signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones will compete to take Harrison's spot at outside linebacker. But, when you talk about whether either one can replace Harrison, Polamalu doesn't agree with that line of thinking.

"You never replace a guy like James," Polamalu said. "But James never replaced Joey Porter. And Joey Porter never replaced his predecessor Jason Gildon. Roles differ. I think people want to put people in a box and say that's his role and this is his role. But it's much more dynamic. It works different ways."