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Ryan Clark injury could spell trouble for improving Steelers defense

Steelers starting safety has been the most outstanding performer for Pittsburgh's defense this year. The Steelers take on the pass-happy Giants in Week 9, and an absent Clark, as well as an expected absence of Troy Polamalu, would be problematic.

Joe Sargent

When Steelers safety Ryan Clark went down with an apparent head injury in the third quarter of Pittsburgh's 27-12 win over Washington, thoughts of a strong victory dissipated a little bit, and thoughts of starting Will Allen and Ryan Mundy against one of the NFL's best passing offenses appeared.

It was reported Clark suffered a concussion, and he'll undergo the standard battery of tests players with head injuries have to pass before getting back on the field.

S Troy Polamalu didn't make it through the first quarter of his return from a calf injury in Week 5. He hadn't played in the Steelers' prior two games (and a bye week), and hasn't played since. It would seem they'd want him to have more than three weeks' rest before trying to get him back on the field.

Clark and Polamalu, both Pro Bowl players in 2011, have played together only the handful of snaps before Polamalu went down in Week 5 this season.

The Giants, as of the first quarter of their Week 8 game against the Cowboys, have 36 plays of 20 yards or more this season, and the vast majority of them are passes.

If Clark cannot play in Week 9, expect the Giants to throw the ball religiously.