The Pittsburgh Steelers are sending another player to Honolulu to represent the black and gold in the Pro Bowl. Safety Ryan Clark has been added to the AFC roster. He is replacing Baltimore Ravens’ safety Ed Reed. This is Clark’s first trip to the all-star event.
Clark was a major factor in the secondary this past season, making an impact in the running and passing game. He is often called upon to hold serve on the back end of the defense because of Troy Polamalu’s play style. Troy is often up at the line of scrimmage playing the role of a hybrid linebacker. It is Clark’s job to secure both sides of the field when Troy is up at the line.
He is a solid open field tackler and can bring down bigger running backs. Clark recorded 100 tackles this season, 71 of them being solo tackles. Perhaps the biggest indicator of Clark’s importance to this team was the wildcard playoff loss to the Denver Broncos. Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas torched the Steelers’ secondary all day. The game was decided on the first play of overtime when Tebow hit Thomas across the middle for an 80 yard touchdown. Thomas shed a few tackles and raced down the sidelines, ripping the heart out of Steeler nation. The result could have been dramatically different if Clark were playing, but we will never know.
The fact remains that Clark finally got the recognition he deserves. He is often overlooked around the league when people talk about Pittsburgh’s defense. He isn’t as well known as the James Harrisons or Polamalus of the world, but Steelers fans know that he is just as important.