While some fans might compare [Shamarko] Thomas to Troy Polamalu, I liken him a bit more to Bob Sanders. Like Sanders, Thomas does not let his size (5’9″ 213 lbs.) deter him from throwing his body around with reckless abandon. And like Sanders, Thomas can cover a large amount of ground and is adept at playing “in the box” when he is needed to support against the run. Last season, Thomas also illustrated a knack for causing turnovers, and racked up a total of 5 (3 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions) to go along with a career high 84 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. While Thomas’ height might be a bit of a disadvantage, his 40.5″ vertical leap should help him against taller receivers. Overall, Shamarko has all of the tools to be a successful strong safety in Pittsburgh’s defense, and would be a steal on Day 3 of the draft.
I don’t think that I need to tell you readers how stoked that I was when the Steelers made Shamarko Thomas one of their two fourth round picks in this past April’s draft.
Of all of the safeties on the draft board this year, I had a special place in my heart reserved for the former Syracuse star due to his tenacity and versatility. I also figured that Thomas’ stock might sadly take a plunge due to his height and nothing more, and boy am I glad that “Shark” fell to Pittsburgh in round four.
Many of Pittsburgh’s rookies not named Le’Veon Bell had solid efforts against the Redskins, and guys like Jarvis Jones and Markus Wheaton definitely made their presences felt. Thomas however stole the show in the second half with his play against the run and the pass.
Overall, Thomas racked up six tackles and forced a fumble when he absolutely destroyed Chris Thompson on a running play. In addition to his run support, Thomas did a fine job in pass coverage when he stopped Nick Williams short of the first down marker on a third-and-eight play to force a Washington punt.
Due to his stellar efforts, Thomas was named the Steelers Digest Player of the Week according to Bob Labriola of Steelers.com.
I for one am encouraged to see more of Thomas as the preseason continues, and I will be extremely interested to see whether or not Carnell Lake and Dick LeBeau decide to insert him in sub-packages during the regular season. We all know how terrible William Gay is. Thus, if injuries continue to strike Pittsburgh’s cornerbacks, then a versatile player like Shamarko could be called upon to help in slot coverage or in “Big Nickel” packages.
While last night’s game was a “dumpster fire” of sorts for numerous reasons, I for one was thrilled to see Thomas display his toughness. Moreover, I am even more glad that the safety was recognized for his play last night by Labriola and Pittsburgh’s team website.
Keep up the good work, “Shark!”
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