May 27, 2003
By Teresa Varley
PITTSBURGH - While safety Mike Logan is still rehabbing the knee he injured in the playoffs last season, number one pick Troy Polamalu is getting more reps during the team's coaching sessions.
But it's not just his absence that has him getting more work. He is the last player off the field during the coaching sessions, as he was during rookie mini-camp.
“I have a lot of time to get better," said Polamalu. "I don’t have anything else to do the rest of the day.”
Polamalu is getting extra reps because of Mike Logan's injury.
The Steelers drafted Polamalu, a safety from USC, after not re-signing unrestricted free agent Lee Flowers. Polamalu is expected to challenge for playing time or even a starting job, but he is the first to admit that the extra reps because of Logan's absence doesn't mean he is moving into a starting role and is the one to beat just one week into coaching sessions.
“I am only playing right now because he is injured," said Polamalu. "I am sure when he gets back he’ll be in the starting role and I will be able to learn with him and hopefully we can make each other better.”
If Logan can come back at full strength he would have the inside track because of his experience. Polamalu will compete for the starting job, but is also willing to do whatever is asked of him by the Steelers coaches.
“I want what’s best for the team," said Polamalu. "With his experience I am sure he is in the lead role right now. I don’t see it as an issue at all, as long as I am learning from him. If he is in the starting role and I am able to help on special teams, I am going to go ahead and give it my best shot and do everything to learn from both safeties.”
Polamalu is taking advantage of having Logan and the other veterans on the field so that he can learn from them.
“It’s nice to have the veterans here and learn from them," said Polamalu. "Brent Alexander and Mike Logan are great players. It’s nice to be able to learn from them.”
Head coach Bill Cowher will likely be keeping a close eye on his top pick, but he said it's still too early to tell how he is doing.
“It’s hard to say," said Cowher. "He’s here; he’s learning the defense. He will have a good opportunity to be in there while Mike is rehabbing his injury. It’s going to be on going like all of the rookies. It’s going to be an on-going learning process. Every practice and every day is going to be a big part of his growth.”
One thing that Polamalu has learned already is that the speed in the NFL is much different than college. It's something the coaching sessions will help him adjust to.
“It’s tons faster than college," said Polamalu. "I played against top-level competition in the PAC 10 and played against the West Coast offense. The transition to the speed isn’t too bad, but there definitely is a difference.”