Ryan Clark hasn’t made any attempt to keep secret his desire to sign an extension with the Steelers that keeps him in Pittsburgh after the 2013 season comes to a close, but the Steelers haven’t shown the same interest.
That divergent desires aren’t getting in the way of Clark helping to get his possible replacement at safety ready for life in the NFL. The Steelers traded up to take Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round of April’s draft, with the extra treasure given up in the deal serving as extra reason to believe that the team thinks he’s capable of playing a big role for them in the near future.
Clark knows that, but has put his personal desires for a contract aside to help serve as a mentor for Thomas as he makes the transition to the professional ranks. Clark said that he and Troy Polamalu have wanted to work with a young safety for the last couple of years and that Thomas has proven to be an eager student to a pair of teachers who didn’t waste any time getting to work with the newcomer.
“It all started the same day I got drafted,” Thomas said, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Troy and Ryan called me and left a message and told me they were going to teach me everything they’ve learned. I came in here ready to learn. They’ve made me comfortable.”
The circle of NFL life has long called for aging stalwarts of lineups to be replaced by younger and hungrier versions. Those aging stalwarts aren’t always so willing to help the guys who are tasked with replacing them, which should leave the Steelers better off than some other teams when the time comes to pull the trigger on a switch at safety.