Polamalu And Clark Both Happy To Mentor Rookie Shamarko Thomas

During the Pittsburgh Steelers mandatory mini camp last week, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau made it a point to praise safety Shamarko Thomas and linebacker Jarvis Jones when asked if it was too soon to tell if any of his young players had distinguished themselves yet throughout the offseason practices.

“I really like our young safety from Syracuse [Shamarko Thomas] also,” said LeBeau. “He’s come in here just like Jarvis [Jones] and worked hard. They’re both learning the defense, and they’re not going to learn it overnight. I’m pleased with where they are.”

Thomas, one of two fourth-round draft picks this past April, has reportedly been in the hip pockets of veteran safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark since being selected and that is perfectly fine with the duo, according to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“Troy and I have asked for years for a guy to mentor,” Clark said. “Some players feel like they can play forever. We understand it is not going to be that way. We want to see somebody take it over and do well.”

Polamalu was impressed by Thomas right from the start and talked highly of his new protégé way back during the Steelers first OTA session back in May.

“He\’s a great, great kid,” said Polamalu. “Very humble, willing to learn and what\’s nice is he\’s got people around him that are wanting to teach him. Everything that I can give him, all of the experience of football, all I have, and I tried my best to convey that to him to keep him from maybe having to overcome a lot of the mistakes that I\’ve had in my career.”

While Polamalu is trying to throw as much as he can at Thomas prior to training camp, he did say last week that teaching the complexities of the Steelers defense to a first-year player is similar to teaching algebra to basic math students. However, according to defensive backs coach Carnell Lake last week, Thomas appears to at least be understanding some of the knowledge that is being imparted to him.

“Shamarko\’s coming along,” said Lake. “Right now we\’re just trying to get him comfortable with the play book, so we can utilize the talents that we saw on film when he was at Syracuse. Right now, I\’d say that Shamarko is at the point now where he\’s not thinking as much as he did when he first got here and hopefully by the first preseason game, I think you\’ll see flashes of his skill set.”

The Steelers veteran safeties both know that they\’re not going to play forever and with Clark currently entering the final year of his contract, he is essentially teaching a player who could ultimately make him expendable as soon as next season. That is a true sign of selflessness, but it is also the Steeler way that we have come to expect.

Both Clark and Polamula most certainly would like to add at least one more Super Bowl ring to their collections before retiring and by having Thomas ready should either of them go down next season with an injury will undoubtedly improve their chances of getting one in 2013.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • michael young

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. Both Troy and Ryan are class acts who have always understood the big picture. I think Ryan Clark has to be spoken of with the likes of James Farrior for best free agent acquisition in the past 20 years. He may have started out as a Skin but he’s all Steelers in the way he acts and plays. Both Troy and Ryan have missed some time over the last few years so it’s imperative that they have someone underneath them that can come in and make plays. I really believe Thomas is going to be a really solid if not exceptional player in time. He has all the tools (personally I think height in a safety is completely overrated).

  • steeltown

    Agreed… and also agree about the height factor, in fact if you look at the top Safeties across the League most are between 5’10 and 6’0 with Roman Harper and Goldson being the exception at 6’1 and 6’2…

    seems the avg height is a very modest 5’11

  • JC

    In my opinion, Shamarko Thomas is going to become the best player out of this years Steelers draft class.

  • JC

    Agreed. I was ecstatic when the Steelers drafted him and truly believe he’s going to become a pro-bowler and the best player out of this years Steelers draft class.

  • Ahmad

    It really is nice to see Polamalu and Clark take Thomas underneath their wing. I can’t wait to see this kid in action.

  • HarryBackside

    Between Troy, Clark, Coach Lake, and Rod Woodson, Thomas will not suffer from a lack of great Steelers showing him the ropes. I hope Shamarko realizes just how lucky he is to have so much talent available to learn from.

  • dgh57

    Yes, I heard during the draft that had he been a couple inches taller he would’ve been a 1st or at least a 2nd rd. pick! Seems like everyone but us forgot about his 40″ vertical!!!

  • dgh57

    I was the same way but they were starting to worry me by the time the 4th rd. came around! Thankfully, they came through for me/us!! The sky is his limit for this guy and can’t wait to see him play!

  • dgh57

    I agree, he couldn’t ask for better teachers of the game!(I’ll add Coach LeBeau to that list) It will all show up on the playing field, I’m sure!

  • steeltown

    Yea he’s just shy of 5’10 a bit taller than Bob Sanders but a bit shorter than Polamalu… i’m just fine with that

  • steeltown

    He was also in the top tier in the 40yd dash, bench press and broad jump

  • dgh57

    Yes, a all around true athlete that the other 31 teams will be wishing they had drafted, especially the teams that have to face him!

  • SteelersNick

    I can’t wait to see this kid play in the preseason. So glad Ryan Mundy is gone.

  • Gautama Om

    While we will get early and significant production from Bell, Wheaton will be our future Probowler…Shamarko has a long road (more obstacles) than the two aforementioned players since he not only has to learn skills to be an NFL safety , he also has to learn Lebeau’s defense.

    That is not a knock on him. He could very well be a Probowler in his career but he has more hurdles in front of him than others…especially offensive players.

  • JC

    Great points. Bell will provide the most production early and Wheaton appears to be a WR who can flourish in Todd Haley’s system. I anticipate all three players to be very good, but in my opinion Sharmarko will become a marque player and leader on their defense in 4-5 years. I’m basing this opinion from all the scouting reports and news stories about Thomas’s work ethic and play making abilities in college. Bob Sanders 2.0 perhaps?
    Now let’s just hope our first round pick (Jarvis Jones) becomes a great player …

  • Matt Searls

    I’m not really as excited about Wheaton as i am with bell, Thomas, and even Jarvis jones. I’ve watched plenty of his games and I don’t see enough to say he will be a pro bowler. I’m happy to be wrong though

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The wildcard in this draft is Nick Williams. I do like Thomas and Wheaton a lot and think that both will be productive and believe that Jones and Bell will be decent but Williams maybe the gem but he may also be a guy that may not even make the PS. It will be an exciting preseason!