Sunday, September 8, 2013
Clark, Polamalu to keep offenses guessing
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH -- Free safety Ryan Clark is hoping that a couple of offseason discussions with former Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will help the back end of the Steelers' defense become even more unpredictable.
Clark lives less than a half hour away from LSU, his alma mater, in the offseason. He chatted up Cameron, now the Tigers’ offensive coordinator, several times about what it was like to prepare for the Steelers and strong safety Troy Polamalu.
Polamalu can turn offensive coordinators into insomniacs as they craft game plans because he plays all over the field and is perpetually in motion. Cameron, Clark said, told him that the more a team sees the Steelers the better chance it has of guessing Polamalu's movements and adjusting accordingly.
Clark said he and Polamalu have worked to counter what teams have gleaned from studying game tape of the duo.
"[Polamalu] is already a wild card in every game but I know people study him so much and try to learn from some of his tendencies," Clark said. "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's game is in studying angles and kinetics, and there isn't much he can't do on a football field.
The Titans, who visit Heinz Field on Sunday for a 1 p.m. game, are well aware of this.
Polamalu made a leaping one-handed interception against Tennessee in 2009. The next season he landed on a startled Kerry Collins after timing the Titans quarterback's snap count perfectly and leaping over the offensive line.
"His recognition is as good as anyone in the NFL that I've ever seen," Tennessee offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. "It creates some issues for the quarterback. It creates gray because you're never sure just what he's going to do."
Part of that can be attributed to uncanny instincts. But there is another reason Polamalu blitzes as effectively as a linebacker but is still one of just nine players in Steelers history with at least 30 career interceptions.
"A lot of the production that he's got is from his study," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. "He has the ability to process what he sees instantly on the field. A lot of guys can study it, but when they go out there they don’t see it. I don’t know if anybody is carrying more knowledge of what is going on out there than Troy."
If Polamalu stays as sound in body as he is in mind, he could return to the form that made him the NFL defensive player of the year in 2010.
And the Steelers could re-emerge as Super Bowl contenders.
"I'm excited to see what he's going to do," Clark said. "I tell people all the time it's a front row seat at the circus when you get to play with (No.) 43."