It hasn’t been a great week for Carnell Lake. He spilled the beans during last weekend’s fantasy camp and had to address those beans – by saying pretty much nothing – as we just wrote about.
But I want to talk about the things that matter to the 2016 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The dudes who are on the team’s roster.
In Lake’s conversation with the media today, he heaped praise onto Shamarko Thomas, the fourth-year safety entering a make-or-break year.
“I think he’s improving; I really do,” as reported by the Trib’s Chris Adamski. “I think he’s improving form the neck up. He’s more comfortable after another year under his belt and learning the system. And if you guys are watching today, he made some plays out here today, and that’s a good sign. To me, it shows that he’s growing and developing as a player.”
Thomas’ issues have never been physical. He’s quick and as hard a hitter as they come. In theory, an ideal strong safety candidate. But his mental mistakes, poor angles and blow coverages in last year’s preseason, have stunted his football career, keeping him on the bench and showing up just on special teams when on the field.
He was tagged with the dreaded “above the neck” problem by Tomlin, a phrase that has hung like a dark cloud over the safety.
With the team re-signing Robert Golden and drafting Sean Davis, Thomas’ chances for making an impact defensively this season aren’t great. But he will get tons of reps in the preseason, especially if Mike Mitchell is not immediately ready from his shoulder surgery, and has a chance to regain at least a glimmer of hope to the coaching staff.
Still, at worst, he should be an effective, four-phase special teamer. As we outlined with Darrius Heyward-Bey, do that and hang around a roster long enough, and you have a chance for redeeming yourself as a positional player.