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Matchup problems found on defensive side of ball, too

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 11:06 p.m.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Steelers safety Will Allen will start in place of Troy Polamalu on Thursday against the Titans. (AP file)

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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