Troy Polamalu not expected to play vs KC. James Harrison will return for #Steelers— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) December 19, 2014
This season, when Polamalu missed two games, the Steelers turned to veteran Will Allen in his place. Shamarko Thomas is listed as the team's back-up strong safety, behind Polamalu, but Thomas was hurt at the same time Polamalu was, bringing Allen into the fold. Thomas is healthy now, giving rise to the possibility the Steelers' fourth-round pick in 2013 may be in line to get his first career start.
Thomas is thought to be Polamalu's heir apparent at strong safety, a starting position he's held barring injury since the 2004 season.
Healthy or hurt, Polamalu is having one of the least outstanding seasons of his likely Hall of Fame career. He's on pace to finish the year without an interception, which would be the third time in his career that's happened (his rookie year of 2003 and an injury-ravaged 2007 season he was held without a pick).
The Steelers are facing a win-and-in game against the Chiefs. A victory would put them at 10-5 on the season and would clinch their first playoff bid since 2011. It would also set up a Week 17 game against Cincinnati with a chance to win the division championship.