Will Allen: 'I am always ready'

Next man up: Safety Will Allen isn't happy that Troy Polamalu is out of the lineup for the Steelers with a knee sprain, but he is thankful for the opportunity to start at strong safety and do his part. Allen stepped in when Polamalu went down against the Ravens on Sunday night, and is ready to keep doing the same.

"I am always ready," said Allen. "I am always into the game, in tune with it. I am talking strategy and defense when the team comes off the field. That is the role the team has carved out for me and I embrace it. I am not satisfied with it, but I embrace it and I have to make plays when my opportunity comes."

The Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the game against the New York Jets.

Allen admittedly would love to see more time in the base defense, or sub-packages, but this year has been used mainly on special teams. Until now, that is.

"I am used to it," said Allen. "It's what has been happening the last couple of years. I just have a positive attitude about it, go about my business and help the team try to win.

"I am thankful. Last year I came in and made plays. I was playing in packages. This year not playing at all, now I'm starting. I am more thankful than anything. I hate to see Troy out. We need him more than anything. When we get Troy back out there it's going to make our defense even better."

To Allen's credit, the 11-year veteran has been approaching his role on special teams with the same enthusiasm a rookie would, never getting down, showing leadership and making play while he waits for more opportunities.

"Every day you have to prepare as a starter," said Allen. "That is something I learned as a rookie in Tampa. You never know when your name is going to be called, when you are going to have an opportunity. When you prepare that way you are not surprised, you are in tune. I am going to have a lot of opportunities the next few weeks to help this team win and keep stacking."

A look at the Jets

The Steelers aren't letting the Jets 1-8 record fool them, as they see a team loaded with talent and the ability to have a breakout game at any moment.

"If you look at their roster they have weapons, especially with Michael Vick and Percy Harvin, but even on their line they are strong," said linebacker Arthur Moats. "We have to make sure defensively we don't let them get started. The past two games Harvin has been putting up numbers. We have to make sure we can minimize his effect on the game as much as possible. We have to make sure we execute our job effectively."

When asked about Vick, nose tackle Steve McLendon shook his head, knowing what he is capable of.

"He is a threat," said McLendon. "He is a great player. He is fast, he can throw, he can see. We are going to have to be extremely disciplined against him. We played hard and physical last week, but we have to go harder this week and give it everything we have. He can change a game."

**What the Steelers are saying:

Heath Miller on the performance of Ben Roethlisberger the last two weeks:**

"It's very impressive. The big thing for us as an offense is we have to keep him up, give him a clean pocket and for the most part we have been able to do that the last few weeks and we've seen what he is able to do. That is our goal moving forward, to give him time and let Ben do what he can do."Cornerback Brice McCain on the moveable parts in the secondary stepping up:

"We have a lot of guys in the secondary that can step in and play nickel, play corner, play safety. We have players that are really versatile, and that is really helping our defense up, the next man up. Whatever coach asks us to do, we have to be able to do it. It's good when we have people like Will Allen who can play nickel, play safety. You have Antwon Blake, Will Gay who can play everything. It's going to take more than one person to step in for Troy, it's going to take the whole team. He is more than one person to us. He is everybody. He controls everybody, he is all around the field. Everybody has to step their game up to try and replace Troy."

The Jets perspective:Quarterback Michael Vick on the Steelers defense without Troy Polamalu:

"I won't say it's too different. As long as they have Dick LeBeau, who's a great one, back there anything can happen with anybody. We know Troy Polamalu is a Hall of Famer. Certainly it all depends on what he knows and what he can do. I think in the circumstances we still have to come out and play our game and understand that they still probably have somebody who can come over and not play just as good as Troy but still be solid."

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