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Reading the Defense: Polamalu should be ready for Week 7

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That statement apparently doesn't apply to the 2011 Carolina Panthers defense. The Cats are giving up an average of 359.3 yards per game -- 16th-most in the NFL. Worse still, they've given up more rushing yards than any other team in the league. It's not much better from a fantasy perspective. Carolina's defense has scored just 20 points all season long.

All of which is why the Panthers are considering a switch to a 3-4 defense. Changing to a defense more familiar to head coach Ron Rivera could help things. It might also be helpful to have some healthy linebackers. Carolina's planning another re-shuffle at outside linebacker with Jason Phillips replacing Jason Williams for Sunday's game against Washington.

But you, dear reader, are here "Reading the Defense" to find out about a few more relevant IDP players. And we aim to please.

Four Downs

First down: It looks like Troy Polamalu will be available for Sunday's game at Arizona after passing a concussion test. The hard-hitting veteran is Pittsburgh's second-leading tackler and among the NFL's leaders in passes defended. If Polamalu's ready to go, then he's worthy of being in your lineup. If he is his normal self, you can expect him to make plays in both the run and pass game. If Arizona is forced to throw a lot, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Polamalu with an interception.

IDP rankings

Second down: The Cleveland Browns' seventh-ranked defense is banged up with Scott Fujita struggling with concussion issues and both Joe Haden and Buster Skrinehobbled. Having the two young corners could be crucial against a Seahawks offense that's starting to find a rhythm. Regardless of whether it's Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst under center, Sidney Rice could present matchup problems if the Browns are forced to look elsewhere at CB. Haden's a great talent, but until he's 100 percent, there are plenty of better options in IDP leagues.

Third down:Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Warehas been slowed in practice this week because of back spasms, but all signs point to him playing against the Rams on Sunday. The St. Louis offense has not lived up to expectations this year and now it's game-time decision for quarterback Sam Bradford. Dallas has a chance to run away from St. Louis early and if A.J. Feeley is forced to throw the ball, it could be open season on the quarterback for Ware and crew.

Fourth down: It seems like every week, there's a new story about a Giants defensive lineman. This week's subject is Jason Pierre-Paul, who could lose snaps when Justin Tuck is finally ready for primetime. The move is expected to help Pierre-Paul's stamina, so while it sounds like a demotion, it could be a good thing for the man who currently sits second in the NFL in sacks. With Tuck expected back after Big Blue's bye this week, Pierre-Paul will get to try this new rotation against the Miami Dolphins sad-sack offense in Week 8.

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