Steelers fans know who Ryan Clark is. He\’s usually the tandem safety with Troy Polamalu. Clark has set himself apart this year by leading the team in tackles with 100 combined (71 total, 29 assisted). Due to a sickle cell condition, Clark will not be able to play against the Broncos at Mile High Stadium on Sunday due to the altitude. Head Coach Mike Tomlin discussed Clark\’s condition with the team\’s medical staff and made the final decision that another Ryan (Mundy) would play in Clark\’s spot. Clark said that he and his family would have prayed about it before-hand, but that he respected Tomlin\’s decision. “It\’s the way he coaches…treating us like men,” Clark said. “He cares about each individual on this team…I appreciate him being man enough to understand the severity of the situation.”
If Clark were to play in Denver, there was the real possibility that he wouldn\’t be 100 percent. The altitude can cause exhaustion and severe discomfort. In the worst case scenario…well, let\’s not go there.
Clark donned Bryant McFadden\’s #20 jersey in practice and said that his role was to help the team. “I am going to be Brian Dawkins in practice, and I will have fun with that.”
Ryan Mundy will get his first start of the season at free safety, and it is during a playoff game. Mundy has 37 combined tackles this season (20 total, 17 assisted). Mundy didn\’t appear to be feeling the pressure on Wednesday and joked with his teammates. He told the media, “I have to find the fine line of not making it too big of a deal…but also realizing this is we win or go home.”
Coach Tomlin has full confidence that Mundy, who will be backed up by Will Allen, can make the transition and play to the level that is needed Sunday.
Mundy added, “I have the confidence from my coaches and teammates and that means a lot.” He said that he was going to “step it up a notch” against the Broncos.