The right calf injury that reduced Steelers safety Troy Polamalu's 2012 season to seven games also bothered him in 2011, when he played in them all. And in 2010, when he was NFL defensive player of the year. And in 2009.

This year, he decided to do something about it.

"I've done quite a bit of different things this offseason," Polamalu, 32, said after the first spring practice. "For sure, there's a lot of different rehab and training.

"When you have an injury that's bothered you for four years, there gets to be so much scar tissue in there."

The root of Polamalu's problems go to scar tissue that built up in his right calf. He played only five games in 2009 because of continuing problems with a knee injury. He missed two games in 2010 with what was described as an ankle injury, but nevertheless was voted defensive player of the year. He played every game in 2011 and made his fifth Pro Bowl.

Yet, he said, all was not right, and this year he wanted to make sure he did what he could to try to minimize the affects of the scar tissue that caused him so many problems last season.

"If you don't attack the problem of scar tissue, then you're just going to continue to have problems. So, this year, I've really focused on that, found a great physical therapist, obviously continued to work with my trainer. So everything has evolved there and evolved nicely."

Breaking up the scar tissue became the goal.

"Not to get too deep into muscular biomechanics, but you can break down scar tissue. The problem is your body has to continue to learn how to re-adapt with broken scar tissue. These are all things I have learned," Polamalu said. "Hopefully, all of this will make these problems obsolete."

Polamalu acknowledged that he attacked the problem more this year than he did previously and explained why he did not do so earlier.

"You know, you kind of rehab, you feel good in the offseason, you come back ... we'll see. Time will tell how things evolve."