Unlike most rookies, Shamarko Thomas was able to experience some early-career growing pains on the defensive side of the ball as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. A key sub-package contributor, Thomas made his presence felt numerous times in the secondary until an ankle injury he sustained during Pittsburgh’s Week 10 win against the Buffalo Bills allowed veteran Will Allen to assume his spot in the lineup.
Unfortunately for the former Syracuse star, his snaps on the defensive side of the ball have diminished as of late due to the play of veteran. Thomas’ lack of reps however have not diminished his overall confidence. In fact, the rookie safety sees big things on the horizon for himself in his sophomore campaign according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com:
Next year’s going to be different, I promise you that, [...] My mentality, the way the game is. It was kind of fast for me this year. I’m going to try to slow it down next year.
Luckily for Thomas, the Steelers will likely need him to assume a much bigger role as soon as possible. Both Ryan Clark and Allen will be unrestricted free agents next season, and Troy Polamalu is due $8.25 million in terms of base salary in 2014 as well. All three veterans could be in danger of being released for cap or performance purposes, so Thomas is almost assured of receiving more chances to play, if not start, next fall.
With an entire regular season and offseason under his belt, hopes will be high for Thomas to become a mainstay in Pittsburgh’s secondary in 2014. Opportunities to shine will be plenty, and Thomas can emerge as an enormous factor if he can continue to develop into the solid player he has the potential to be.
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