Shamarko Thomas and Mike Mitchell took to the field together for the first time outside of practice this past weekend vs. the Packers. This was an important moment for the team, as neither safety has been healthy for long periods of time.
Shamarko has long been considered Troy Polamalu’s successor at the strong safety position. His speed and hard hitting ability is reminiscent of a young Troy, thus causing excitement around town.
However, injuries have derailed his career up to this point. Many fans are starting to wonder if he’s too injury prone to be of any use. A solid point, however its an unfair assumption. He hasn’t been in the league long enough to be given that title.
Speaking of injuries, free safety Mike Mitchell is back to health after suffering from groin injuries. Speaking from experience, groin injuries can seriously hinder one’s speed and strength. He was getting unnecessary hate for something that prevented him from using the best of his abilities.
With both starting safeties on the field that day, we caught a glimpse of what we can expect come actual game day.
Thomas and Mitchell were most certainly on the same page, covering for each other. Mike allowed Shamarko to go out and do some of the things that have earned him the nickname “Headache”. One such example is the sack that Thomas recorded against Scott Tolzien.
The safety blitz was perfectly executed to surprise the back up quarterback. Plays like this allow the momentum of the game to sway in favor of the Steelers. Thomas finished the game with 5 tackles and one sack.
Mitchell was mostly unheard of during the game, which in this case, was a good thing. He didn’t mess up too much, and was decent in coverage.
Thomas and Mitchell are the duo that is gonna lead the defensive backfield for years to come. Their chemistry will be imperative further on down the road. It seems as though things are looking up for the often criticized safeties.
As I’ve stressed before, it doesn’t matter too much that its still preseason. The two safeties are building trust and are communicating, the basic building blocks of a successful team.
Whether they can replicate their production during a regular season game still remains to be seen.
Stats and info courtesy of NFL.com and Steelers.com