Gone are the days of James Farrior roaming the middle of the field, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Aaron Smith is not there to show the young players what it truly means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler.
For many organizations, the loss of such leaders would be cause for concern when it comes to leading a unit, but not with the Steelers. Someone is always there to step in and show the young players how to play the game.
Stepping up into a leadership role this year is one of the best, and most respected, defenders in the league: Troy Polamalu.
Polamalu is taking a break from his usual offseason training program with his own trainers to join the Steelers for all of the OTA sessions as the team is transitioning from a veteran-led group to one with an infusion of talented youth.
Mike Tomlin should be happy with Polamalu at the facilities as he begins to prepare his team for the 2012 season.
“Our goals are simple,” said Tomlin (via Steelers.com). “We’re here to learn and teach."
The rookies will be like sponges during the OTAs and while the coaches will certainly do a lot of the teaching, so will the veterans who know what it takes to play at a championship level.
Without players such as Farrior and Smith, as well as Hines Ward, Chris Hoke, William Gay, Bryant McFadden and Chris Kemoeatu, there will be a different feel in the Steelers locker room.
While there is no shortage of leaders on the roster, a player such as Polamalu carries a little bit extra clout. He plays his position like no one else and can do things that few, if any, other players can do in the league.
If that doesn't get a young players attention, nothing will.
Polamalu can bring a lot to the team by attending OTAs and he realized he had to step into a lead role.
“It’s my time to be around the team a little more,” Polamalu said (via Steelers.com).
Polamalu knows what is at stake and he knows that the other veterans on the team must take on the leadership roles that were lost this offseason.
With a young secondary in place, there is cause for concern when it comes to making mistakes, but with those also comes the potential for greatness given the pure talent of these players.
Players like Polamalu teach invaluable lessons to teammates by demonstrating commitment to the team and work ethic.
Just by practicing alongside the young players on the roster, Polamalu will be instilling knowledge in the young players that even the best coaches cannot achieve.
It is one thing to teach a player how to be great, but it is another thing to watch someone right beside you who defines greatness.
That is what Polamalu brings to the OTAs as he continues to pass down the message of doing it the Steelers' way.
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