By Teresa Varley
Tyrone Carter stood outside the Steelers locker room beaming on Thursday afternoon. And he had good reason to be happy.
Carter missed practice on Wednesday to be with his wife April, who gave birth to their son Tyrese. And on Thursday, he was back to work, preparing to start against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Carter will start at strong safety for Polamalu, who is expected to miss three-to-six weeks after injury the MCL in his left knee. One thing Carter won't try to do is be Polamalu, instead focusing on what he does best.
"We all have our own type of play we bring to the table,' said Carter. "With Troy, I can't simulate Troy. I can't be Troy. Troy is one of the best safeties in the league by far. All I can do is take my talent to the level. That is being in the right places, make sure I am playing my right defenses and make sure when plays come my way I make them. I have to do what I need to do and hopefully I am out there making plays myself."
Filling in for an All-Pro, do-it-all safety like Polamalu is not an easy task, but Carter is not putting any added pressure on himself.
"When you get caught up in a situation like that people always put his name out there," said Carter. "You always are like I have to be like him, I have to do this. I have to be myself and that will allow me to make plays. I am a playmaker myself. As an athlete you always dream of being out there starting. I got an opportunity because he is hurt. But I have started in this league before and I know what it takes to be out there and get the job done and that makes it a lot easier for me."
Another thing that makes it easier is his relationship with Polamalu. When Carter isn't on the field he is the eyes and ears for Polamalu, watching how things play out and giving him input on the sidelines. That keeps Carter in every game, ready to step in whenever called upon.
"I am always into the game, letting him know what he is doing and watch out for this. It keeps me involved in what is going on," said Carter. "It enables me when things happen I am going to be ready. It prepares me as if I am going to play because I have to make sure I get him some information."
Notes: Wide receiver Limas Sweed did not practice on Thursday with a foot injury. Polamalu also did not practice. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons was limited in practice.