After nine outrageously successful seasons in the NFL, Troy Polamalu has earned the right to manage the offseason any way he chooses.
This time around, the All-Pro safety is breaking from his normal program to join the Pittsburgh Steelers for organized team activities. Polamalu, who regularly skipped OTA sessions in past years to work with his Los Angeles-based trainer, was on the field Tuesday for drills.
With a handful of veteran defenders no longer on the roster -- linebacker James Farrior, defensive end Aaron Smith and cornerback William Gay are among the departed -- Polamalu acknowledged the urge to serve as a presence for younger players to turn to, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"It's my time to be around the team a little more," Polamalu said.
Despite the No. 1 ranking in 2011, Pittsburgh's defense has something to prove heading into next season. When we last checked in with Polamalu & Co., we witnessed a defensive backfield shredded and scattered by Tim Tebow's arm in a stunning playoff loss to the Denver Broncos.
Polamalu isn't waiting around to author a different story in 2012.