The checklist for Allen on a given week never changes: Run to the ball. Don't get beat deep. Go where you're supposed to. When appropriate, hit somebody.
Allen has no delusions about what will happen whenever Polamalu's right calf finally heals. He'll go back to the bench and watch one of the best safeties of his generation go to work.
Until then — and Polamalu has already been ruled out for Monday night's home game against Kansas City — Allen will do his best to be Polamalu-lite.
"I'm just doing my job," Allen said Wednesday. "I just want to be on my Ps and Qs and I want to be effective and have urgency. When I'm reading my keys and I'm helping this team, that's the main thing that I care about."
The Steelers turned to Ryan Mundy to fill in when Polamalu initially hurt his calf in the season opener against Denver. Mundy, however, struggled in pass coverage and earned a couple of costly penalties at crucial times, most notably an unnecessary roughness penalty against Oakland that send wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey to the hospital.
Polamalu returned against Philadelphia on Oct. 7, though his comeback lasted all of a quarter before he reinjured the calf, this time more seriously than the first. He hasn't stepped on the field since, though the secondary hasn't missed a beat.
Pittsburgh (5-3) leads the NFL in pass defense at the midway point, allowing 174 yards per game. That number is dropping every week and took a big plunge when Allen and company shut down Eli Manning and the defending Super Bowl-champion New York Giants last week in a season-turning 24-20 victory.
Manning completed 10 of 25 passes for 125 yards and an interception as the Steelers frustrated one of the league's most dynamic passing attacks.