Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Shamarko Thomas Barely Used on Defense Down the Stretch


Although he experienced plenty of action in sub-packages early during his rookie campaign, I knew that Shamarko Thomas did not contribute much on the defensive side of the ball after he sustained an ankle injury in Pittsburgh’s Week 10 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

In fact, the then-rookie safety did not log a single snap on the defensive side of the ball in any of those contests according to Scott Brown of

To be fair to Thomas, veteran Will Allen did a decent enough job in his place to earn a role in Pittsburgh’s sub-package schemes after he was re-signed at mid-season. But seriously, zero snaps?

I fail to see how Dick LeBeau could not figure out how to work in the tenacious and pugnacious safety into any sub-package situation. In addition, I am not exactly sure why Thomas was not used in place of the slow as molasses Ryan Clark in certain passing situations. Moreover, why Thomas wasn’t used for help in run support in sub-packages or even used to blitz off of the edge also puzzles me.

Of course, with LeBeau running the show, the fact that Thomas was essentially glued to the bench for the last half of his rookie season did not come as much of a shock to me. With veteran pacifiers like Clark and Allen at his disposal, LeBeau could keep Thomas sidelined unlike other rookies like Vince Williams and Jarvis Jones.

I should add that the only reason those guys even saw the field during their rookie campaigns was due to the rash of injuries and the lack of veteran personnel at their respective positions. Had Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley not been hurt, there is no way that Williams or Jones would have played as much as they did or turn improved as much as they did as the season progressed.

Thomas’ lack of playing time last fall aside, I do hope that the Steelers and their coaching staff are willing to give the former Syracuse star more chances to shine in their secondary during the 2014 regular season. Clark and Allen will both be free agents this March, and Thomas should be in line to play a significant role in Pittsburgh’s defense if one or both players depart.





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  • Carl Eagan

    I’m guessing that since you know for a fact that this was all Lebeau’s doing guys like Lake and Tomlin had absolutely no input! Hey was it Dick’s fault Tomlin gave Adam’s the starting left tackle job before a single pre-season game?

    • Dom DiTolla

      Ah yes, and you know that Haley & Bicknell, Jr. had nothing to do with the decision to start Adams?

  • Redd Mahoney

    I wonder if you were doing all of this clamoring for the youngsters to play when the Steelers were consistently making the playoffs. The issue is the declining play of the veterans, not the lack of playing time for the youngbloods.

    • Dom DiTolla

      As far as the defense has been concerned, I’ve been waiting and wishing that the younger players would receive more chances to at least contribute for the last half decade:

      I actually clamored for the front office to let Woodley walk so Worilds could play back in 2011. I was more than in favor of the team releasing both Porter and Haggans so the younger and more talented Harrison and Woodley took over in 2007 and 2008.

      I wanted the staff to give McLendon his shot to enter the D-Line rotation on a more consistent basis at least two seasons ago. Hell, I wanted Farrior and Clark gone after the 2009 season and the team to find better and younger options at ILB and FS through the draft.

      My biggest issue is that seniority, rather than talent, has seemed to have ruled who receives the playing time on the defensive side of the ball since LeBeau has been in charge, and especially since the rebuilding era was on the horizon after the 2010 season.

      The declining play of the veterans and unwillingness to insert the youngsters into the lineup to spell and eventually take over for the aforementioned group is what actually links those supposes “separate” issues together. In fact, it is an enormous reason why this team is in such dire straits on that side of the football in the present.

      I’m not even advocating that the younger players should be starting either, I’d just having their skill-sets utilized more often in sub-packages and instances where they can help the team over some of their older teammates. Extra experience never hurt anybody, and if these youngsters can help, then they should be able to do so.

      • Mark

        Zero snaps for Thomas is just ridiculous. If he’s supposed to be the successor to Clark, he needs to play. LeBeau keeping the old guys in there is detrimental to the team, when younger faster guys are available. I have a lot respect for LeBeau but I hope last year was his last. Hes not a bad coach, hes actually one of the best, but I think its just time for a change. Sometimes thats needed once in a while

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