Troy Polamalu turns 30

The AFC North blog would like to wish a happy birthday to Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Pro Bowl safety turns 30 today.

It seems like a distant memory when Polamalu joined the Steelers eight years ago and struggled as a rookie. Six Pro Bowls and two championships later, Polamalu will go down as one of the most dynamic safeties to play in the NFL.

The age of 30 is significant for NFL players. But Polamalu, when healthy, has showed no signs of slowing down. He is the NFL's reigning defensive player of the year after recording 63 tackles and seven interceptions this past season, and many of his big plays came in clutch moments.

The biggest issue with Polamalu is injuries. He plays with reckless abandon, which makes him unique and unpredictable for opponents. But Polomalu's playing style also has resulted in knee, hamstring, ankle and Achilles ailments the past few seasons. Polamalu spends a lot of time in the box banging around with much bigger players, and the wear and tear is taking its toll.

Polamalu will be starting his ninth season with Pittsburgh in 2011. Perhaps the Steelers should consider playing Polamalu more in coverage and less in the box, which is what Pittsburgh did last season during its playoff run when Polamalu wasn't 100 percent.

Polamalu will continue to be one of the top defensive players in the NFL, but the Steelers have to do their part in keeping him fresh for a full season.