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Steelers’ Polamalu on track to start |

Steelers’ Polamalu on track to start

| Thursday, December 13, 2007 12:00 a.m

Troy Polamalu talks to his uncle, Kennedy Pola, every week during the season.

“He checks on me to see if I am healthy,” Polamalu said.

The answer Polamalu gives this week could be both good and bad for Pola.

Polamalu, who has missed the Steelers’ last three games with a sprained knee, practiced Wednesday and is on track to play Sunday when Jacksonville visits Heinz Field.

The reason that news isn’t entirely good for Pola: He is the Jaguars’ running backs coach, and Jacksonville will have to contend with one of the best safeties in the NFL barring any setbacks.

“I feel good now,” Polamalu said.

Now, however, is the operative word when it comes to Polamalu’s health.

He felt good enough to practice Dec. 5, but he had what he called “a knee-on-knee collision,” and it sidelined him for the rest of the week as well as the Patriots game.

His return would provide a boost to a defense that lost end Aaron Smith to a season-ending arm injury, especially since Polamalu is strong against the run.

Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason will fill in for Smith, who will have surgery Friday to repair a torn biceps, at left defensive end.

Each started a game there earlier this season when Smith was out with a sprained knee, and Kirschke figures to get the starting nod Sunday.

While he and Eason are veterans, Eason said he expects the Jaguars to run at them, since each has played sparingly this season.

“Anytime you’ve got a guy that’s played some but doesn’t have a lot of playing (time), he’s a target,” Eason said.

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