Polamalu not changing despite roster overhaul
With the loss of key veterans on defense, Mike Tomlin suggested to All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu that attending offseason practices would be a good idea.
Translation: Tomlin expects the veteran safety to be more of a leader on and off the field, and that started with attending all 12 organized team activities — something he hasn't done since early in his career.
Polamalu obliged, but he still doesn't view himself as a leader, especially a vocal one.
He also doesn't necessarily believe the defense needs to single out one or two players as leaders to be successful.
“We've always had phantom leadership in that we have tradition,” Polamalu said. “There's a certain way that we do things around here for as far back as I can remember, to Joe Greene and those guys, the way that we prepare ourselves and the way that we play. When you have that sort of phantom leadership, you don't need a rah-rah guy that's the face of the franchise that's always pushing people.”
Polamalu reiterated that he's not going to change how he prepares and plays because the team lost veterans James Farrior and Aaron Smith.
“I really don't think anybody really steps into those types of roles and gets out of character,” Polamalu said. “I am definitely not a vocal leader, if a leader at all.”
Polamalu acknowledged the Steelers haven't had this much turnover in terms of team leaders since he arrived. The Steelers released defensive captain Farrior and special teams captain Arnaz Battle, while offensive captain Hines Ward retired.
“It's going to be exciting to see how players fit in,” Polamalu said.
As for on the field, for the first time in years, Polamalu is feeling fine.
Aside from a couple of nagging day-to-day injuries last year that limited practice time, Polamalu was healthy.
The 31-year-old played in all 16 regular-season games for only the second time since 2005. He finished the year with 91 tackles but wasn't happy with his overall performance or the play of the defense despite it finishing No. 1 overall.
“I think we could've done better as a whole team, including special teams,” Polamalu said. “There were times we didn't get turnovers and times the defense didn't have a lot of time of possession.”
Polamalu has yet to miss a practice a week into camp.
“He's back to being the same Troy,” safety Ryan Clark said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org