Steelers rookie Shamarko Thomas said he's been in awe of playing with and learning at the feet of master safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, calling them 'freaks' for their abilities.
Speaking at length after this morning's practice, Thomas said, "They’re some freaks, man. I see them out there flying around – It looks like a movie I said when I was in minicamp. It’s just fun to be out there learning from those guys."
Thomas has watched in amazement of Polamalu for years he said.
"I see him make those freak tackles and interceptions and I still be wondering how he did it. It’s just him studying, he knows the weakness of the defense, the strength and where the ball is, reading routes ... it’s amazing. I’m trying to do everything that he does, but it’s not quite there yet," he laughed.
That might be a while coming, but in the mean time Thomas said both players have had plenty of advice for him.
"Take it day-by-day. Be in your playbook at nighttime, even when you don’t [have] to. Watch a lot of film and work on your technique each and every day."
That's out of pure necessity, he added.
"You don’t have a choice. With Coach LeBeau’s defense, you have to study 24-7 just to get all the knicks and knacks out so you can fly around. ... [it’s] tough on a rookie coming in, there’s a lot of language, a lot of communication, and a lot of changes to formations and stuff, so you definitely got to be in your playbook and learn from Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark."
His takeaway from both men is simple: "Take care of your body."