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In 2008, he'd have been either first or second. In 2010, he'd have been the top defensive player (hint: he isn't now). Unfortunately, it's 2012, so he's making his entrance a little earlier than most people probably will like.
Polamalu is the best safety of this generation. He and Baltimore's Ed Reed have revolutionized the way safeties are viewed, evaluated and coached. The two of them share that distinction, and both should go into the Hall of Fame when they hang up their cleats.
That said, he's showing some chinks in his armor the same way Reed is. They've both become injury-prone. Polamalu had a relatively healthy 2011, but he didn't always look like the disruptive force of a year or two before.
He also has been figured out to some degree. Polamalu guesses a lot on his rushes. He seems to have a lot of freedom to play as he likes, but in 2011, he guessed wrong or was neutralized a bunch of times. That's a player who's either declining or tipping his hand. Either way, it moves you down the ranks a bit.
This will be a big year for Polamalu. He needs to prove he can get back to 2008 or 2010 and really turn his game up a notch.