Steelers safeties Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu hope to keep opponents guessing
The Steelers' Ryan Clark puts a hit on the Browns' Chris Ogbonnaya in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, at Heinz Field.
Photo by Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Ryan Clark is promising different looks from the Steelers' secondary, and it's not just because longtime partner Troy Polamalu is fully healthy to start the season.
It's also because of offseason help from an unlikely source: former Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, now the offensive coordinator at Clark's alma mater, LSU. Cameron ran the Ravens' offense for nearly five seasons.
Clark and Polamalu later talked about what Cameron said, and they decided to implement some altered looks and wrinkles because of it.
“As a guy I respect as an offensive coordinator, he (Cameron) was just very insightful,” Clark said. “If you play us one time, it's really hard to figure out what we're going to do. But like anybody else, we have rhythms, we have things I feel like I do well and he (Polamalu) feels like he does well. So what we tried to do was work on the opposite.”
Clark found Cameron's knowledge useful because he and Polamalu are beginning their eighth season together as a safety tandem. As a result, Clark might perform wrinkles that opponents are more accustomed to seeing Polamalu do, and vice versa.
“Switch it up in a game, just to keep people guessing,” Clark said. “No. 43 (Polamalu) is already a wild card in every game and people study him so much to learn some of his tendencies. If we can just throw them off a little bit and allow him to be in better position to make plays, it's going to be crazy what he can do.”
Polamalu was bothered at the start of last season by a calf injury that caused him to miss nine games, but he was healthy by the end of the year. That allowed him to start his offseason program earlier and be more aggressive with his conditioning.
“He looks amazing. I don't know if he's practiced this much in training camp in years,” Clark said. “His weight's down, he's moving well. We haven't had the opportunity (before now) to work together for a whole camp to try to like figure some things out. ... I tell people, it's like a front-row seat at the circus when you play with 43.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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