Five quarters. That’s all safety Troy Polamalu has played for the Steelers defense this season. Since then, his nagging calf injury has plagued his return – frustrating not only himself but fans as well. With the Ravens coming up this Sunday and the Steelers’ only saving grace so far this season (Ben Roethlisberger) out while still recovering from his shoulder and rib injury, they will certainly need a spark to help get the win. But is Polamalu just what the Steelers need to sneak out a win in Baltimore?
Troy’s been out almost all season. The week following his injury, a person couldn’t look at Steelers coverage without being swamped with stats of the disparing diference in the Steelers record with and without Polamalu in the lineup. However, with back ups Will Allen and Ryan Mundy (and really it’s been ALL Will Allen thus far) holding their own in Troy’s absence, that record has slightly improved in the favor of the Steelers. In fact, the last two losses have been greatly attributed to the lack of offense while the defense has been playing lights out.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said that Troy’s aerobic conditioning has been good all season while he healed up the calf but that he could use some football conditioning. He’s expected to have a significant role in the defense but won’t play every down. Polamalu will be the most rested defenseman on the team, which could help as the game progresses. But, by not taking game snaps for 80% of the season makes me think his decision making and pursuit might be a little on the slow side. Is that something that could hurt the defense’s chances of stopping an offense who has blown out teams all season long while playing on their home turf in Baltimore?
I’m a little skeptical seeing Troy return. I’m glad that he’s returning. I will be interested to see how he does in his first game back. But, I hope that LeBeau doesn’t leave him in the game for notoriety’s sake while someone like Will Allen could help make a larger impact defending receivers like Torrey Smith.