FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Troy Polamalu has a huge fan in Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
Holmes, in his first season with New York, gushed Wednesday about the effect his former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate has on games.
"With all due respect, I honestly think Troy Polamalu is probably the greatest player I've ever played with or even seen play in person," Holmes said. "Everybody has their one person they think is the greatest player. In my eyes, I think he's the greatest player I've ever played with."
Holmes will get to see Polamalu up close as an opponent when the Jets (13-5) and Steelers (13-4) play for the AFC championship Sunday night in Pittsburgh. Polamalu sat out the teams' previous meeting last month — a 22-17 victory for the Jets — with a right Achilles' tendon injury.
"The things that he did in my four years of being there, and prior to me getting there, was just disrupt a team," Holmes said. "He's jumping over the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball, tackling runners in the backfield, jumping up and intercepting the ball one-handed. He's returning it for touchdowns, doing numerous things."
Polamalu, a contender for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is recognized as one of the game's best. The safety had seven interceptions in 14 games along with a sack, a forced fumble and 82 tackles.
Holmes was traded to the Jets in the offseason after a sometimes stormy tenure in Pittsburgh. It was highlighted by him being selected MVP of the 2009 Super Bowl after an acrobatic catch to put the Steelers ahead late against Arizona. The speedy wideout knows that for him and the Jets to get to the Super Bowl in Texas, how they deal with Polamalu will be a major factor.
"Just having him keyed in and keeping the ball away from him," Holmes said. "Playing sound football and not turning it over and giving him any opportunities to make those type of plays can definitely keep him from disrupting our team."