Strong safety Troy Polamalu said some of his teammates might have slacked off late in the preseason, which might explain why the Steelers struggled in their final two games.
"It kind of gets a little redundant, these preseason games," Polamalu said Thursday night, after the Steelers defeated the Panthers in Carolina, even though the first-team offense and defense did not play particularly well.
"You kind of start looking forward to the season," Polamalu said. "I think that may have been the reason we didn't play as good the last couple of preseason games. But that may also be an excuse."
As far as Polamalu is concerned, preseason games are just as important as regular-season games. He explained why he feels that way.
"Because I love to play football, personally," he said. "I love to practice, I love to go out there and play games. If I could go both ways and play on special teams, I would love to do that because I love to play football. But guys approach it differently. Will I have that same attitude about preseason games if I play 12 years in the league? Who knows? But it can get pretty redundant."
Because the Steelers were substandard in those final two preseason games, Polamalu was not surprised when coach Bill Cowher said, "We are nowhere where we need to be right now."
Cowher clearly was perturbed at his postgame news conference, conceding he was in a "bad mood" after an exchange with a reporter, whom he later made nice with.
"I think he was as wired as I've seen him after a fourth preseason game in the three years I've been here," Polamalu said.