The lion is looking to retake his place as king of the jungle, when Troy Polamalu takes the field with the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Tennessee Titans to open the NFL regular season.
Polamalu and his flowing mane were missed in 2012, as he was humbled and hobbled by a calf injury which has actually been nagging at him for quite a while. He pulled himself out of his comfort zone and pushed his training regimen to a new level, to return himself to the level the word had become accustomed to seeing.
The Polamalu who consumed highlight reels with gravity-defying interceptions and aerial assaults on quarterbacks and running backs in short-yardage situations seemed to have been replaced with a wiser but slower centerfielder while dealing with his wounded calf. In 2013, he is already reminding on-lookers of his former self - the man who was once named defensive player of the year and considered a contender in several other seasons.
The road to redemption begins against the Titans on Sunday, a familiar starting point for the Steelers and Polamalu. The teams have met on opening weekend twice during Polamalu's ten-year career so far. In both contests, Polamalu grabbed an interception. Those games and Polamalu's picks inaugurated the 2005 and 2008 seasons, years whose paths ended on podiums bearing Lombardi trophies after winning Super Bowls.
As the Steelers attempt to make the trek to their seventh Super Bowl championship, Polamalu will be looking to make some additional team history along the way. He needs two more interceptions to join Jack Ham and Darren Perry for seventh on the team's all-time list. While it is not impossible, it is unlikely Polamalu will grab both against the Titans; but his history against the team in such a situation says he could grab at least one.
If he does pick off a pass on Sunday, history says in can be a sign the team is heading the right direction as they set out upon their journey, through the jungle Polamalu is determined once again to rule.
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