View Full Version : Defensive catalyst Polamalu might return tomorrow

08-18-2008, 03:14 AM
Defensive catalyst Polamalu might return tomorrow
Monday, August 18, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Polamalu is a man of many talents, but his skills on the field have been missed while he has been out at training camp with a hamstring injury.The oh-so-modest Troy Polamalu thinks the Steelers' defense doesn't change much without him.

If true the Steelers should pay Tyrone Carter as much as they do the man with the curly, long black hair that nearly prompted the NFL to pass a rule against it last spring.

Offenses have yet to devise anything to fight Polamalu's play on defense and it looks as if they will have to contend with him again, perhaps as soon as Saturday night in Minnesota.

"There are rumors going around, we'll see," said Polamalu, smiling widely because coach Mike Tomlin has set tomorrow as Polamalu's target to leave the physically unable to perform list and practice for the first time this summer.

It will be their first practice in Pittsburgh after the final drill at Saint Vincent College yesterday afternoon, the door closing on camp a welcome site for Polamalu, who reported with an injured left hamstring and never practiced.

"Yeah, it is. I've just been going to meetings and watching practice like a coach. I'm a football player, not a coach, not a cheerleader."

He played the part of pied piper Saturday when, after a planned week of not running at all, he ran the fields at Saint Vincent and was joined by about 50 kids he welcomed from the crowd that had gathered for the afternoon practice. It was a day they'll all remember, including Polamalu because it was his best day since training camp began July 27. He had another yesterday, when he ran hard again with no setbacks.

"It felt good," Polamalu said.

It also was a good day for coordinator Dick LeBeau because Polamalu means so much to his defense.

"He's one of our best players, he just means that," said LeBeau, citing his strong safety's playmaking ability.

Besides making those plays, Polamalu can prevent the big ones, the intermediate gains that can turn into back-breakers, the ones "that normally might seam your defense," LeBeau said.

"He has that burst and he gets the ball on the ground and instead of a 20-yard gain it's a 7-yard gain and at the end of the season that adds up to a lot of yards. He's a valuable guy."

Polamalu wants to play against the Vikings Saturday in Minnesota, as long as he's at full strength, which will be determined later in the week.

"Yeah, I do but I don't want to play in the sense that, like you said, if I can't be myself, you know what I mean? The way I see things, as soon as they put me on the field, I'm like, 'Shut up, let me practice the new play, don't take me out of the game.' That's always every preseason football player's mind-set. It's like, 'Oh, man, preseason!' And once you get in the game, 'Don't take me out,' you know?"

Even though Polamalu played through several different injuries, including ones to a knee and rib, and did not have a sack or interception for the first time in his career, the Steelers led NFL defenses in fewest yards allowed.

"Last year we were very successful," Polamalu said. "I don't think people understand, last year we could have been the best defense in the history of football, statistically."

They ranked No. 1 in total yards, No. 3 in rushing yards allowed and No. 3 in passing yards allowed. No defense has ever gone 1-1-1 across the board, but the Steelers came close twice previously in this century when they ranked No. 1 total, No. 1 against the run and No. 4 against the pass in 2001 and 2004.

"We were a couple of plays from doing that," Polamalu said. "It's so crazy that we were that close."

Polamalu said the defense has grown increasingly complex since Dick LeBeau arrived for his second tour of duty as its coordinator in 2004.

"I was thinking about our defense, and the evolution of our defense. We were very simple when coach LeBeau came in. As time progressed, things started getting a little more complex. He's doing a lot more things with us, which has made us a better defense."

Polamalu permitted LeBeau to disguise his defenses even more because he moves so quickly before the snap of the ball, giving offenses fits. That is why Tomlin waited an entire training camp to put his star defender back onto the practice field.

"Everybody knows he's somewhat of a catalyst for our defense," Tomlin said.

What's important is the Sept. 7 opener and what follows over the next 15 games and perhaps beyond.

As Polamalu said yesterday as everyone put Saint Vincent practices behind them, "Before you know it, everybody's going to forget about this little camp

08-18-2008, 08:34 AM
I trust Troy and his abilities on the field. I'm not really too concerned with seeing him on the field during the pre-season. Heal, heal well, and then on Sept 7 come out and show the world once again why the hair should be feared!!!