View Full Version : Polamalu regains game-changing ability

09-17-2008, 12:39 AM
Polamalu regains game-changing ability
By Scott Brown
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 88581.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_588581.html)

Troy Polamalu has intercepted a pass in each of the Steelers' first two games. Just don't suggest to the apparently superstitious strong safety that he is close to starting a meaningful streak in that department.

"You don't talk to pitchers about no-hitters, right?" Polamalu said with a grin. "You just can't talk about it."

With apologies to Polamalu, his two interceptions are two more than he had last season, and they are a reflection of two things: a more aggressive approach that the defensive backs are taking this season and a return to health by the most dynamic player on the Steelers' defense.

Polamalu is 100 percent after battling a number of injuries and missing eight games the past two seasons. His teammates got a chance to fully appreciate what he can do when healthy when they watched film of their 10-6 win over the Browns.

On one play, Polamalu timed the snap perfectly and leaped over both lines, sabotaging a Browns run and showing yet again that few players in the NFL are as disruptive as the four-time Pro Bowler.

"He's playing at a high level, but he's healthy and I think that's always got something to do with it," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "You can tell that Troy is healthy. I like him healthy."

Not only is Polamalu healthy, he is fresh, ironically enough, because of an injury.

The 5-foot-10, 207-pound strong safety missed all of training camp with a hamstring problem. Given the kind of burst he has shown in the Steelers' first two games, it looks like Polamalu benefited from not taking part in the grueling practices held in often sweltering weather at St. Vincent College.

"We're 2-0, I'm healthy right now, so I guess I wouldn't want to change a thing," Polamalu said.

Polamalu is one of several game-changers the Steelers have on defense. What sets him apart is his closing speed, that can be breathtaking.

"He's so fast from Point A to Point B," cornerback Bryant McFadden said. "He goes from 0 to 60 in a second. He's that guy that's always going to be around the ball like you're used to seeing and making critical tackles and making big plays."

The Steelers have already made their share of big plays on defense.

They have four interceptions through two games after picking off 11 passes all of last season.

McFadden, who intercepted Browns quarterback Derek Anderson on Sunday, said the defensive backs have developed a more aggressive mind-set.

That has manifested itself in the three interceptions defensive backs have made (outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley has the team's other interception). The Steelers had just eight interceptions from their secondary last season.

"From a (defensive back's) standpoint, our first emphasis is pretty much not to allow the receiver to catch the ball," McFadden said. "This year, everybody is focusing on if we get in the area, we're trying to pick it off. That's something we've been practicing. We feel like if we catch the ones we get our hands on, we'll be OK."

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

09-17-2008, 07:56 AM
Our opportunistic secondary is getting huge ripple effect from our more aggressive pass rush. We are actually getting to the opposing quarterback with greater efficiency. This is obviously reaping huge dividends in our turnover margin. Troy and the secondary will have their hands full with McNabb and Co. As we saw on MNF he still has a cannon and he has some speedy receivers to contend with so the deep ball is always a threat. We can't give the big play. We need to shut them down early and take the crowd out of the game.

09-17-2008, 08:04 AM
Philly will be our first of many BIG tests this year!!