The question that all NFL and especially Steeler fans have about Troy Polamalu, is if he will play like the Polamalu of old. If not, then that’s a shame for the league. Since for the majority of the last decade, he’s not only been one of the best defensive players in the NFL, but one of the 10 best players, period.
Not to take anything away from the Steelers star-studded rosters, but Polamalu is in elite company. You can argue that he’s as good a blitzer as this game has ever seen, and has been the crucial element for Pittsburgh’s recent run of excellence. It’s not easy to find a great run defender with an equally excellent ability to defend on passing downs. He has all of the tangible things you need, as well as an overflow of intangibles. It’s almost like he’s out there playing a couple of seconds into the future sometimes, making plays on parts on the field where he shouldn’t even be.
His ability to read offensive sets, place himself into the correct coverage gaps and make game-changing plays when his teams needs him the most, has made him an all-timer. Not only that, he’s just fun to watch.
The 2010 Defensive Player of the Year has had a “legend in his own time” type of career.
But now what? Is it over? Is there anything left in the tank besides dust and residue? Can his body, which frankly is always on the mend, hold up for one last Steelers run? He’s missed 30 games in his career, including nine last year. He uses his 5´10 and 207-pound frame like a battering ram, and because of that, barely misses any tackles. However, his kamikaze style of play will not allow him to play much longer. Last season, he began to show signs of wear, intercepting only one ball and playing below his usual level of ferocity.
The Steelers are instituting something of a youth movement , meaning, Polamalu’s time here is on the clock. With the AFC North remaining strong, they may ask a little less of him this season – at least until the playoffs are in sight. He still remains the brains of this unit, and at the age of 33, is an effective and quality SS. This off-season he’s talked about taking it down a notch in practice, in the hopes of saving his full power for the actual game. Hopefully, he’s able to go the whole season, because the NFL is better when he’s in it.