Banged up secondary catches a break against Broncos offense
The Steelers secondary could look different by the time they take the field on Sunday in Denver. Ryan Mundy could be playing for Ryan Clark, and Anthony Madison could be playing for Keenan Lewis.
Fortunately they are playing a Denver offense that doesn't exactly light up the yardage stats in the passing dept. Tebow went just 6-22 for 60 yds in that 7-3 loss to the Chiefs. They've lost 4 straight as well.
If guys like Lewis and Clark can't play, it could affect Troy Polamalu as well. Perhaps he doesn't free lance quite as much, perhaps he doesn't hover near the line of scrimmage like he usually does. Ryan Mundy is a capable backup and has played opposite Troy before, but the chemistry that Clark and Polamalu have is pretty unique. They know what each other is doing and have a knack for covering all the bases when the other takes a chance to play the ball or go in run support. Maybe Dick Lebeau dials back some of the Safety pressure to give Madison and Mundy some help.
If there was a week for that happen, it's this week. Better to do it against Denver than say New England.
The Steelers lost two cornerbacks
to injuries in Cleveland, Keenan Lewis with a hamstring and rookie Cortez Allen to a separated shoulder. They will decide soon whether Clark will risk playing in the high altitude in Denver, where his sickle cell trait caused a violent reaction in 2007 that required emergency surgery and nearly killed him. He lost his spleen and gall bladder from the reaction caused by exertion in the mile-high altitude.
Ryan Clark ruled out vs Broncos
The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to play the Denver Broncos in the first round of the playoffs on January 8, 2012. The game will be held in the high altitude and low oxygen conditions of Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. Unfortunately, for Steelers S Ryan Clark, this means he will not be able to play and he has been pulled out of the game.
Clark carries the sickle cell trait in his blood and when exposed to high altitude and reduced oxygen, this condition can become life-threatening. Clark learned this in 2007 when he last played in Denver. That game cost him his spleen and gallbladder, as well as a loss of 30 pounds and an end to his season. He thought he was going to die.
So what exactly is sickle cell and how is it affected by high altitude and reduced oxygen?
Sickle cell affects the red blood cells in the body. It is caused by a trait that is acquired from both parents.
Healthy red blood cells are round in shape and designed to move easily through the blood vessels. They carry the iron-rich protein called hemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout your body. In people with sickle cell disease, these red blood cells are crescent shaped and carry abnormal hemoglobin. Because of the shape of the cells, they can also block blood flow in the vessels. This can cause pain, organ damage and serious infections.
In order to have sickle cell disease, you need to have received the sickle cell trait from both of your parents. However, if you only receive the trait from one parent, you are diagnosed with sickle cell trait. This means that you will more than likely not have symptoms of the disease but can see complications under certain conditions.
Ryan Clark is considered to have sickle cell trait. He does not suffer from the disease on a regular basis but can experience complications and can pass the trait to his children.
Complications for those carrying the sickle cell trait occur under conditions of high atmospheric pressure, low oxygen levels, dehydration and high altitudes. Unfortunately for Clark, those account for many of the conditions in Denver. The higher altitude and reduced oxygen can be difficult enough for healthy individuals to receive enough oxygen for their body, but with sickle cell trait it becomes even more difficult.
While the idea of missing the first playoff game is not appealing to Clark, neither is a risk of potential complications. This is not the first game he has missed because of this condition. The Steelers have played Denver two times since that game in 2007 and Clark was pulled out of both of them.
I think we all saw this coming...but it is yet another hit to our secondary. It's a damn good thing that we're not playing a high powered offense this round.