Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Donnie Nickey’s playing the part of Troy Polamalu in practices this week for the Titans, and while the reserve safety is studying the Steelers’ offense, not their defense, he’s also putting a lot into playing the part.
Here’s my snapshot of his helmet in his locker.
“It’s hairy and very hot, polyester,” Nickey said. “It gets in my mouth, I’ve got these little hairs all over me and my girlfriend is like ‘Who?’ And ‘I’m like, no, no, no, it’s for practice, it’s for work.’”
A year ago strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson produced the wig for Tuff Harris, the backup safety who drew the assignment before the Titans beat the Steelers 31-14 on Dec. 21.
Harris, recently cut by Tennessee, was signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad.
(To answer the popular question, while the Steelers could be trying to cull information, I think signing a guy recently cut by your opponents usually pays minimal dividends. Who do you think knows more about the Titans’ defense: Pittsburgh coaches who’ve watched hours and hours of film or a guy that played a bit of second-team safety in the preseason? I’ll take the coaches.)
Now, Nickey is trying to imitate Polamalu’s fervor.
“It’s a lot of energy man, just all the disguising, he’s just all over the place,” Nickey said. “He’s got kind of free reign to do whatever he wants because he always ends up in the right place. I’ve seen enough, we came out in the draft the same year, I met him at the combine and stuff and just through watching film I’ve seen him play a lot.
“He’s just such a high-motor guy, so aggressive and absolutely fearless going into anybody. I just try to be that a little bit. I kind of run out of energy at the end of practice.”