While he might not ever start a game in 2014, Pittsburgh Steelers second-year safety Shamarko Thomas is expected to make a ton of progress this season. The Syracuse product knows it and he’s trying to absorb as much as he can from starter Troy Polamalu, the player he will likely succeed as early as 2015.
Since he was drafted last year, Thomas has reportedly always been good about trying to pick the brain of Polamalu. On Tuesday, veteran cornerback Ike Taylor revealed during his weekly radio show that Thomas is currently out in California picking Polamalu’s brain first-hand.
“Shamarko, our safety, is in California working out with Troy,” said Taylor on Trib Live Radio. “That’s something that I’ve never experienced or heard of Troy doing with a particular player. But now Troy’s taking on that fatherly role with his kids and with Shamarko, so that’s a good sign.
“I was telling Shamarko before he went out there, ‘Shamarko, that’s something huge, because this dude don’t ever do that. Troy’s all about himself and family and whenever he plays football, he knows it’s about business. But heck, man, you’re out there training with Troy. As far as like learning tendencies and defense, just the way of life, or just learning how to be a good person, man, your walking with Jesus on earth right there.'”
Taylor went on to say that he’s not sure if Polamalu knows what he means to the team.
“There’s a lot of people who look up to Troy, including myself,” said Taylor. “Just as a person. As a football player, we all know we’re playing with a Hall-of-Famer hands down. But just as a person and what he brings to the table, in this world in general, it’s a lot.”
Taylor was then asked to update what he’s seen so far out of Thomas during the Steelers offseason practices.
“Shamarko, he’s been handling his business quietly with the helmets and shorts,” said Taylor. “But Shamarko is known for knocking people out and the only way your going to get to see him knock someone out is in training camp, preseason games, regular season games. So that’s what Shamarko excels at.”
If the news of Thomas training out in California with Polamalu doesn’t get you charged up, I’m not sure that anything will. Thomas may have only played 193 snaps as a rookie, but those were very valuable snaps even though most of them came as a slot defender. By now, he should have a pretty good understanding of both safety positions in addition to the nickelback spot and that in turn should enable to play much faster and with a lot more confidence.
As for Polamalu, he has never been a real vocal leader during his career as he prefers to lead by example instead. However, him taking Thomas out to California with him to train speaks volumes when it comes to leadership. I, for one, can’t wait to see if it pays off during training camp and the preseason. There’s no reason to think that it won’t.