Polamalu shines again as cutdown day looms

The best player in a Steelers uniform against the Philadelphia Eagles was Troy Polamalu. I now see why Troy took such a long time with the mental part of the game last season. He was busy at work distilling all that garbage from the Steelers' defensive playbook into a very simple plan for every play.

What's the magic formula? Apparently it's this: (1) Diagnose; (2) Run like hell; (3) Hit somebody. Polamalu executed this formula full tilt against the Eagles, going 100 miles an hour on every play, blown coverages or missed tackles be damned.

As far as making tackles, Troy breaks down a ball carrier in the open field better than any player I've seen in the Black and Gold since Rod Woodson. Woodson had that rare ability to actually gain speed the closer he got to a ball carrier. His prey often looked like a wounded dear caught in the headlights, unable to determine its next move before being flattened.

Troy Polamalu plays the same way. On one Eagles touchdown run, Troy immediately diagnosed the run and without hesitation sped off and exploded into the fullback leading the play - as if the fullback had the ball. This single play epitomizes Troy Polamalu's game. Diagnose, Run like hell, Hit somebody. If the other 10 guys on defense follow Troy's lead, we'll have the best defense in the league this year. I think I smell a defensive MVP.

In other news, yes, Willie Parker had his break out game. And yes, Parker is a lock for the final roster. But that was last week's news. From a pure running skills standpoint, Willie Parker is already our second most talented running back. However, he still has a long way to go before he's ready to see significant playing time in the NFL.

I expect that Jerome Bettis will make the final roster at the expense of JT Wall, and that Dante Brown will be one of the final cuts after unsuccessful trade attempts. After all, DanteBrownhasNoNFLPotential. There, I said it.

Another standout from the Eagles game was Chris Hoke. Hoke brought relentless pressure throughout the game and generally looked like a man possessed. This guy needs to see more playing time. Kirschke and Keisel also provide great depth along the defensive line. There is a steep drop off in talent after Keisel at defensive end however, so don't expect Upchurch or Taylor to make the team.

The offensive line played hard and looked good as a unit. Maybe that will be the key to improvement over last year. Marvel looks natural at left tackle and Faneca and Hartings played solid as usual. Vincent showed a lot of power throughout the game and we are lucky to have a player of his caliber step in for Simmons. Too bad we didn't sign Vincent to more than a one year deal in the off season.

Although Oliver Ross appeared to play well most of the game, it was primarily against the scrubs. Had Jevon Kearse not left the game early, Maddox would have had many more flashbacks to 2003 before the night was over. Fordham looked terrible most of the game, and Starks is strictly a guy with potential at this point. Did I mention that Marvel looked good at OT? Jim Jones stood out at guard in the second half and I expect he'll be on the final roster, especially with Vincent a free agent after the season.

I noticed surprisingly good blocking from Tuman and Riemersma, and surprisingly poor blocking from Dan Kreider. Kreider looked soft most of the game and rarely lit anybody up. Riemersma actually got some time at FB, which is bad news for J.T. Wall's hopes for making the final roster. Kranchick is a keeper at TE. He's a natural receiver at 6'7" and had some decent blocks in-line. The scouts dug up two gems in Kranchick and Parker.

Roethlisberger appears to be at his best feeling and dealing with pressure in the pocket. It looks like he has that sixth sense ability to feel the pass rush while focusing his attention down field, which is a very good sign. When the pressure does arrive, it's no problem for Ben who is just as willing to run over a linebacker as around him. It's too bad his playing time for this season is about to end.

The coaches have 6 more cuts to make by Tuesday. Here's a quick 9 running out of time: WR Glenn Martinez; WR Brian Robinson; WR Freddie Milons; DE Grant Bowman; LB Allen Augustin; P Mike Barr; K Rob Bironas; CB Terry Fair; and CB Nashville Dyer.


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