ShareThis Page

Steelers expect no defensive drop-off with Mundy

| Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012

Ryan Mundy started a routine this year in which he watches game film and visualizes himself playing in the situation that's he watching.

"You have to see yourself making plays," Mundy said. "You have to put yourself in that guy's shoes and ask yourself, 'What you would do in that situation?"

Those shoes Mundy will be filling Sunday when the Steelers travel to Denver for an AFC wild-card game will be those of Ryan Clark.

With Clark ruled out by Mike Tomlin earlier in the week because of an existing medical condition that could be aggravated by Denver's high altitude, Mundy will make the third start of his three-year career, and first as a free safety.

According to Clark, it couldn't come during a better situation.

Denver is first in the NFL in rushing; the Broncos average 164 yards per game. Since Tim Tebow took over at quarterback, Denver has averaged 38 runs per game and only 24 passes, making Mundy's run-stopping ability more valuable.

"They are going to try to run the ball, and those two guys (Mundy and Troy Polamalu) are the best two in-the-box run defenders," said Clark, who led the Steelers with 100 regular-season tackles. "Maybe in a way it turned out to be the perfect week for this to happen to us."

Mundy hasn't played with Polamalu much over his career, instead filling in for him on a number of occasions — including twice this year when Polamalu left games with concussion-like symptoms.

Mundy had five tackles against Jacksonville when Polamalu went out. He had nine stops along with his only career interception against Kansas City a few weeks later.

"We kind of groomed him," Polamalu said. "(Clark) has taught him everything he knows, as well as myself. Whenever I come out of the game or Ryan comes out of the game, he replaces us. I don't anticipate any drop-off in play."

There could be a different look to how Polamalu plays, but it won't be because Mundy is in the game in place of Clark.

Polamalu's freelance tendencies aren't expected to be a big part of the game plan; Denver likes to run the ball out of the spread option, where gap control is paramount.

"This is a week you need to be on all your keys and tendencies," Clark said. "A week that you have to do your assignment first."

However, if Polamalu wants to freelance at times, Mundy sees no complications.

"Troy is going to be Troy," Mundy said. "I have been watching Troy and Ryan play for four years now, so I picked up things on how they communicate and how they play. We are going to work on some things this week to see how we play together and communicate."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.

click me