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No Polamalu, Harrison for Raiders game Sunday

September 22, 2012
The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - Linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu did not take part in the Steelers' final practice of the week and will not play Sunday at Oakland.

The defensive standouts - named to a combined 12 Pro Bowls - will not dress for the second consecutive game. Harrison, who had surgery on his left knee Aug. 15, has not played yet this season. Polamalu missed last week's win over the New York Jets due to a calf injury.

The Steelers (1-1) have a bye week after playing the Raiders (0-2), but they play twice in five days beginning Oct. 7.

Ryan Mundy will start in place of Polamalu and Chris Carter will replace Harrison.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall also will not play, but continues to progress after another full week of practice in his rehabilitation from a torn ACL.

Tight end Heath Miller (rib cage soreness) returned to practice Friday and is expected to play against the Raiders.

Fact Box

Sunday's matchup

Who: Pittsburgh at Oakland

When: Sunday, 4:25 p.m.

TV: CBS

Team records: Steelers (1-1); Raiders (0-2)

For the Raiders, Oakland free safety Michael Huff says he isn't sure where he'll be lining up on Sunday.

If he does, he's not saying anything.

Huff has been splitting time at safety and cornerback this week in practice as the Raiders scramble to patch their injury-depleted secondary but coach Dennis Allen has not revealed who will be in the lineup against the Steelers.

"We're still trying to figure out everything," Huff said Friday. "They haven't told me either way yet. If I'm out there [at corner] I'll be ready or if I'm at safety I'll be ready. It's not that big a difference, really."

Oakland is without season-opening starters Ron Bartell [shoulder] and Shawntae Spencer (foot), and the team's two primary backups, Pat Lee and Joselio Hanson, were repeatedly beaten by Miami receivers in the second half of last week's loss to the Dolphins.

Huff, the Raiders' first-round draft pick in 2006, played cornerback for two years in college but has only done it sparingly in the NFL.

Still, he might be Oakland's best option playing against a Pittsburgh team that Huff says has the fastest receiving corps in the NFL.

"I think for me it's easier because I think as a safety so I know kind of what the safeties are doing," Huff said. "For me, outside is easier than inside because inside you're working on slot, quick receivers. Outside is pretty much just press and run, more the deep routes."

Exactly what the Raiders' plans are for Huff and the secondary are somewhat of a mystery.

The only thing for certain is that Spencer, who is in a walking boot and using crutches, is out.

"I think we have a pretty good plan for what we're going to do and how we're going to attack that position," Allen said. "We'll be ready on Sunday come anything that comes our way."

In addition to giving Huff reps at cornerback, Oakland also signed Brandian Ross off Green Bay's practice squad.

Whoever lines up against the Steelers will have his hands full.

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has the second-highest passer rating in the AFC, while wide receiver Mike Wallace already has two touchdowns among his nine receptions.

Huff, the second-leading tackler in the Raiders' secondary, knows that slowing down Pittsburgh's passing game is critical if Oakland is to avoid going 0-3 for the first time since 2006.

The Raiders couldn't do that last week when Miami rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 9 of 11 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in the second half of a 35-13 loss to the Dolphins.

There were also tackling issues in Oakland's secondary which made the loss of Bartell and Spencer even more glaring.

"It's never really just one thing ... guys getting tired, guys undisciplined at times," Huff said. "That's kind of what's killed us in the past, and that's what we need to eliminate. Be more consistent."

If Huff does line up at cornerback, the Raiders will likely use veteran Matt Giordano to fill the void at safety.

"It's not really much difference because during one-on-ones I do everything with the corners anyway," Huff said. "If my number's called I'll be ready. Either way I think I'll be fine."

Raiders notes: Right tackle Khalif Barnes has been ruled out because of a groin injury. Second-year player Willie Smith has taken the majority of reps in place of Barnes during practice but third-round pick Tony Bergstrom, drafted as a guard, has also been working at the tackle spot this week. ... RB Mike Goodson (hamstring) was held out of practice while DT Richard Seymour (knee), linebacker Rolando McClain (concussion, ankle) and backup C Alex Parsons (shoulder) were limited.

 
 
 

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