Steelers hold high hopes for pass defense
Troy Polamalu said the Steelers' pass defense will figure prominently in helping the team snap its two-year playoff drought.
The Steelers had the top-ranked pass defense in 2011 and '12. But they slipped to ninth last season, in part, because the middle of the secondary often was exploited by prolific passing games such as those in New England and Detroit — games in which they surrendered a combined 82 points and 757 passing yards.
Even with the loss of Ryan Clark and an injury to free safety Mike Mitchell, Polamalu said he feels good about the Steelers' depth at safety.
So far, Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden and veteran Will Allen have been solid during training camp at St. Vincent.
“We've had a lot of depth here, but with the departure of Ryan and with me getting up there (in age), it's those guys' opportunity to take advantage of the playbook and the time they have out there,” said Polamalu, 33. “They have to give the coaches confidence, and I have definitely confidence in guys like Robert, Shamarko and Will. But it's important they have the confidence in themselves.”
On Wednesday, Thomas played most of the snaps with the first-team defense at free safety. And Golden continues to progress at both safety positions.
Polamalu, in his 12th season, said he has high expectations for the secondary, in part, because of the depth and experience at safety.
“They all have to prepare to be a starting safety, especially with Mike going out,” Polamalu said. “Suddenly, that depth doesn't look as good as it did before. But those guys are working really hard to improve their game.
“Obviously, Shamarko is going to take more time because he's younger. I was just explaining to him that this year he'll get the playbook down, then his third year he'll feel as if he can play the position and by the fourth year he'll have the game down.”
Thomas, a second-year safety, is playing with confidence. He's been as good against the run as he has in defending the pass.
“We are athletic at the safety position, and everyone knows the playbook,” Thomas said. “We can rotate everyone at every position. We're playing free and strong safety in practice, which stirs up the competition.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Can Steelers’ Mitchell find Carolina cure?
- Robinson: Study shows NFL troublemakers don’t get hurt in wallet
- Steelers notebook: Panthers LB Kuechly making an impression
- Value of nickel rising in NFL
- Play to watch: Inside zone read slant/bubble
- Moore hopes to see red (zone) in Steelers debut
- Steelers notebook: Ravens DL fined for hit on Roethlisberger
- Steelers’ Polamalu relying on smarts as physical skills decline
- Steelers’ Timmons looks to reverse defense’s struggles
- Mistakes multiply for Steelers in rout by Ravens
- Steelers not receiving big returns on their offseason investments