Peaking at the right time a key

The Steelers had the number one ranked passing defense during the regular season last year, but all year long players preached that it didn't matter where they were ranked throughout the season.

What mattered to them was what happened in the post-season, how they performed then and how far the team went.

And last year, it wasn't far enough for them, losing to the Denver Broncos in overtime in the AFC Wild Card round.

"One thing I've learned about this game going into my 10th year is you don't necessarily have to be the best defense during the season or the best team during the season, you've just got to be good enough to get into the playoffs and then be the best team in the playoffs," said safety Troy Polamalu. "We went 15-1 and lost in the AFC Championship game. We were the best team during that season. When the New England Patriots went 16-0 they were the best team.

"You've just got to peak during the playoffs and when it came down to crunch time we didn't perform as a defense. You have to seize the opportunities that are given to you and you've got to be patient for them to come. We'll see if we learn from that and how we prepared this offseason."

Safety Ryan Clark has seen teammates come and go, with others stepping in to pick up the slack on the field. Clark knows the same will be the case on the field this year after the team lost James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Will Gay this offseason.

"As far as football, it's going to roll on," said Clark. "This organization won six Super Bowls for a reason. They know how to get the right people in the right position and allow them to play football. As far as the leadership I think everyone is doing what they have been doing all along and the leadership process happens naturally."

But it's off the field where he will miss guys who were more than teammates, they were friends.

"It's the off the field stuff and the behind the scenes things that you miss the most," said Clark. "James Farrior was the guy with the remote every morning when we had a break. He is the guy that gave the speech after we had a prayer. Aaron always said the same thing when we broke the huddle. You miss those things. Will Gay danced in the circle before we started the game. It's the little things like that that hit you every now and then."

Just when it looked like Thursday's OTA session had come to a complete end, players lined the sidelines on the far field to watch linebacker Lawrence Timmons and quarterback Troy Smith compete to see who could throw the football the furthest.

You would think Smith would be the favorite, but Timmons has the ability to throw the ball 75 yards. Just not on this day.

"I was the favorite, but I got beat," said Timmons. "I threw it 68 yards. Troy threw about 69 yards."

Timmons had the ball slip before the throw, joking that it was his teammates that caused him to lose the yearly competition the players have.

"I had somebody talking in my ear while I was trying to make the throw," said Timmons. "There were a bunch of distractions that you didn't see that were going on. The throws normally go farther, but I was being bothered by a few people. That happens.

"It's all fun. It's competition. But I did get cheated."

Smith will take on the reigning champion, Byron Leftwich, at some point near the end of training camp.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.