Polamalu is key to Steelers' secondary

Updated: July 25, 2003, 11:45 AM ET
By By Darrell Trimble | NFL Insider
With the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp set to start on Saturday, there is likely to be one notable absence on the field -- rookie safety Troy Polamalu. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting that talks between Polamalu's agent, Marvin Dermoff, and the Steelers' front office have bogged down and the 16th overall pick will probably not be in camp. That's bad news for the Steel Curtain, which last year was beaten like a steel drum through the air.

The presence of Polamalu is so important because instead of making wholesale personnel changes to improve the defense's performance against the pass, the Steelers opted to bring back 11 of their 12 starters on D and try to change their scheme. Polamalu was to be lone new addition, and he would add the speed and coverage ability that Lee Flowers failed to provide.

But unless the Steelers sign him before he misses any significant camp time, there is a good chance the Steelers would be forced to go with veteran Mike Logan as Flowers' replacement. Logan has experience, but he just had surgery to repair cartilage damage and a partial ligament tear in his knee in January. If the Steelers intend to ground opponents' air attacks this year they'll need a better option than Logan.