With the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense under fire following the loss to the Oakland Raiders, welcome news that strong safety Troy Polamalu will finally return to the field as early as the October 7 game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field. Polamalu, who suffered a calf injury during practice early in the season, practiced this week and looks to be back to playing form.
Polamalu returned to practice Tuesday and spent two days working with the first-team defense. This is a defense who has yet to see veteran linebacker James Harrison return from injury. It is also a defense that has been heavily scrutinized for not finishing games, especially since the offense has been managing the game clock so efficiently. They've been guilty of not finishing games, but they've also had to make adjustments in the defensive backfield to make up for Polamalu's absence.
Polamalu told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the woes on defense. “I think if you kind of individually watched a player in the game, you can say everybody [on the defense] played pretty good,” he said. “But everybody was messing up on the wrong play...eleven guys weren't doing their job together on every play.” Polamalu reiterated that breakdowns in the Steelers defense are more obvious because the team plays “so much more man-to-man than anybody else”.
The return of Polamalu to the playing field will be a welcome boost to the defense. They've seen both the Broncos and the Raiders use their hot-blitzes against them to throw long passes down field. Opponents have taken advantage of one-on-one mismatches. With Polamalu up to speed and ready to be disruptive once more, it will be on the shoulders of the rest of the defense to play their positions. After all, Polamalu isn't a one-man show, but he sure makes us feel better when he's on the field.
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