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Matchup problems found on defensive side of ball, too

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Steelers safety Will Allen will start in place of Troy Polamalu on Thursday against the Titans. (AP file)

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 11:06 p.m.
 

It's not just offensive players who create matchup problems. Titans wide receiver Nate Washington said safety Troy Polamalu is difficult to prepare for because “he's one of the few players in the league who are going to make a play outside of the defense that is called.”

That won't be a worry to the Titans with Polamalu (calf) shelved again, so the Steelers are hoping Will Allen can do his best Polamalu impression. Allen hasn't started in three seasons with Pittsburgh — he mostly plays special teams — and he has made only two starts since 2006. He is expected to split time Thursday with Ryan Mundy.

“Obviously, I'm going to play more on defense,” the 30-year-old Allen said. “I'm ready. I've started in this league. I started in Tampa (in 2005-06). I know I'm capable, and I'm ready.”

Polamalu was seen Tuesday with a protective boot on his right leg.

GOING WAY BACK

There was no better rivalry in the late 1970s than the Houston Oilers and Steelers, who met in the AFC Championship Game during the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Given that it's been 15 years since the Oilers moved to Tennessee, some fans may have forgotten the franchise's roots. The Oilers/Titans and Steelers have met in all but three seasons since 1970 (2004, '06 and '07). The Steelers lead the series, 44-30, with three straight wins.

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