September 9 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) and Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu (43) dive after the ball in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Peters of the Tennessee Titans’ team website recently wrote an article on the subject of Troy Polamalu in his “Know the Foe” series. In the aforementioned article, Peters discussed the strong safety’s career achievements and discussed the type of “x-factor” the seven-time Pro Bowl honoree could potentially be in tomorrow’s game.
Polamalu’s talents are not lost on Tennessee’s coaching staff either. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains referred to Polamalu as an “ultimate wild card” on the defensive side of the ball, and head coach Mike Munchak had this to say about the types of things that Troy can do for Pittsburgh’s defense:
"He [Troy Polamlau] definitely makes them a much better football team when he’s out there because it seems like he takes risks and usually he’s right, … Usually he finds a way to make a play more so than he does lose when he takes a gamble. The thing about him is he takes smart gambles. He understands their system so well that he understands when he can take his opportunities, take his shots knowing that he has someone that can cover him up if he is wrong or doesn’t make the play. He’s going to take his chances, and that’s how this defense is in general."
I recently shared how much more of a turnover-causing unit Pittsburgh’s defense has been with Polamalu in the lineup, and his return can only help create some indecision in the minds of Tennessee’s young offensive players like Jake Locker. Thus, some of his very smart risks and gambles could pay off in Pittsburgh’s favor if Locker & co. cannot account for him.
As Peters alluded to in his article, the Titans did not have to face Polamalu when they beat the Steelers 26-23 last fall so his return should be an enormous boost for Pittsburgh’s defense this year. Unfortunately for Tennessee, the Steelers’ starting strong safety looked like his 2010-self during preseason play, and it appeared that he was finally over the nagging calf injury which cost him a large chunk of the 2012 season.
I am certainly excited to see what a now-healthy Polamalu looks like during regular season play, especially since most of us in “Steeler Nation” have not seen him fully healthy in an extremely long time. Most of all though, I hope that the “x-factor” can return to his havoc-wreaking and turnover-causing self tomorrow afternoon against Tennessee’s offense.
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