Thanks to a knee injury suffered last Sunday night by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, veteran Will Allen will make his first start of the season Sunday against the New York Jets. Allen is used to stepping in for Polamalu, however, as the veteran has had to do it several times during his time in Pittsburgh.
During his talk with the media Thursday, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was asked to talk about Allen having to fill in for Polamalu while he’s out injured and you can tell he’s not worried about the change in defensive personnel.
“Will has played a lot of good football for us in the past and we’re very confident that he’ll do a good job for us,” said LeBeau. “We’ll miss Troy. He’s a great player but throughout the league and every city they’re going to have games where they will have to go without some of their people and we’re just without Troy this week.”
Allen will be roaming the back end of the Steelers secondary Sunday with Mike Mitchell and while it will be the first time the two have played a considerable amount of snaps together during the regular season, he believes the extra time they spent practicing together early on in the offseason will help against the Jets.
“It’s going to be a little bit easier with Will than it was with Troy because we spent four months working together when Troy wasn’t here,” said Mitchell, according to Ralph Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. When (Allen) got into the (Baltimore) game, it was just like OTAs. I’m very comfortable working with him.”
With Allen having to replace Polamalu, it could result in Mitchell playing more of a strong safety role this week. Allen’s more than fine with that as he said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make Mitchell comfortable in the defense with Polamalu sidelined.
“I’ll let him do what he does best, and I’ll play off him and he can play off me,” Allen said.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has said in the past that he likes having Allen around because he’s a very low maintenance player who’s always prepared when his number is called.
“I am always ready,” said Allen, according to steelers.com. “I am always into the game, in tune with it. I am talking strategy and defense when the team comes off the field. That is the role the team has carved out for me and I embrace it. I am not satisfied with it, but I embrace it and I have to make plays when my opportunity comes.”
By the sound of things, we could be seeing Allen roaming the secondary with Mitchell for the next several weeks as Polamalu will likely be sidelined for more than just this week.
“I am going to have a lot of opportunities the next few weeks to help this team win and keep stacking,” Allen said.