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Steelers Position Battle Review: Safeties Fight For Possible Week 1 Helmet


When a team has a player as unique as Steelers SS Troy Polamalu, the "other" safety needs versatility above all else. Polamalu's instincts are unrivaled, to the point his assignment is often to simply do whatever he feels he should do.

FS Ryan Clark has had a good amount of success with the Steelers due to the fact he compliments Polamalu well. Polamalu is a once-in-a-lifetime player, one who can't be replaced. The Steelers need to find another Clark, though. Literally.

They know they will be without Clark's services in Week 1 at Denver due to a medical condition aggravated by high altitude environments. It's nearly a sure-bet veteran Ryan Mundy will replace Clark, as he has in the past. Mundy is also the top back-up to Polamalu. Using one in-game back-up to both safeties is a dangerous proposition, particularly against a team that will likely look to throw the ball 30+ times in the season opener.

Veteran Will Allen looks like he'll keep his roster spot, filling in as the fourth safety and contribute primarily on special teams. Undrafted rookie Robert Golden has shown flashes of outstanding play, and maybe even showed enough to make the more expensive Allen expendable.

At some point, if they haven't already, the Steelers will consider a third and fourth cut date after the Aug. 28 cut from 90 to 80, and the Aug. 31 cut from 80 to 53. Will they look to keep an extra safety due to the fact they will be without Clark in Week 1, and make another move after that?

If they did, Golden would likely be the safety they'd keep over Myron Rolle, despite Rolle's obvious size advantage. Golden seems the more instinctive player and Rolle may have a step on Golden athletically.

While the third preseason game is usually the one for the starters to get the most work, seeing which of these safeties comes in for whom first will be instructive in figuring out which of them may have an edge on the other, and if either of them has a chance to unseat Allen for what looks to be a position of importance come Week 1.