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Know the Foe: 'Ultimate Wild Card' Awaits Titans

The Titans have spent a considerable amount of time preparing for the unpredictable play of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, an 11-year NFL veteran who is often given free reign in Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's system.


The Titans have prepared for another collision with Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Polamalu has 641 career tackles (487 solo), 10 sacks, 98 passes defensed, 30 interceptions, eight forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and two touchdowns on interception returns, but the style of his game is what prompted the most discussion by Titans players and coaches this week.

Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains called Polamalu the "ultimate wild card" because of his instinctual ability.

"He's got a great sense of awareness," Loggains said. "His sense of recognition is as good as anyone in the NFL that I've ever seen, so it creates some issues for the quarterback, creates gray because you're just never sure exactly what he's going to do."

Polamalu missed last season's game against the Titans but had nine tackles and three passes defensed in 2011. He has three career interceptions against Tennessee, including one in the end zone in 2010. Polamalu also had three tackles for loss in that game.

Titans coach Mike Munchak credited Polamalu's energy, passion and ability to make unique plays.

"He definitely makes them a much better football team when he's out there because it seems like he takes risks and usually he's right," Munchak said. "Usually he finds a way to make a play more so than he does lose when he takes a gamble. The thing about him is he takes smart gambles. He understands their system so well that he understands when he can take his opportunities, take his shots knowing that he has someone that can cover him up if he is wrong or doesn't make the play. He's going to take his chances, and that's how this defense is in general."

Titans quarterback Jake Locker said Polamalu has earned the independence he has by establishing trust.

"I think he makes plays when he does it so they trust him with that," Locker said. "He's the guy that kind of gets the defense going at times. When they need a play, he finds a way to make one, so as an offense, it's your job to try and not allow that to happen, not allow him to energize that defense by making a play and just understanding that he might not always be exactly where he's supposed to be. You've just got to react and play the game."

Chris Johnson said it's important to pay attention to Polamalu's location before each play and be ready to respond appropriately.

"You've got to be aware because he's like the player around the line of scrimmage a lot and likes to come in on those blitzes and try and sack the quarterback a lot, so we're going to have to know where he is at all times," said Johnson, who was also asked about the trademark long locks of Polamalu that he insured for $1 million in 2010.

"His is longer, (but) I feel like I'm a little more stylish," Johnson said.

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