The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Shamarko Thomas to replace Troy Polamalu. Those are incredibly big shoes for anyone to fill coming out of college, but Thomas and Polamalu have formed a bond, with Polamalu actively mentoring Thomas during off season training.
- It remains to be seen if Thomas can grow into the role he was drafted for, but unfortunately he’s following in Polamlau’s footsteps in other ways – injuries.
Steelers Nation held its collective breath when Stephon Tuitt and Justin Forsett rolled up on Troy Polamalu’s leg at the end of the first half of the Steelers Ravens game. The sight of Polamlau hopping off the field on one leg sent shivers up the spine of everyone wearing Black and Gold
- Even though Polamalu was back in for a few plays, he was soon out for the night.
Early word is the injury isn’t severe, and Polamalu should be able to return to the field this season. Which is good news, because one had to wonder if “This was it.” But one man’s injury is another’s opportunity in the NFL, and Polamalu’s was no exception. Or at least should have been no exception.
Prior to the Raven’s game, Steel Curtain Rising read the reports of Mike Mitchell’s groin injury, and suggested that while losing Mitchell would be bad, it would at least provide Shamarko Thomas an opportunity to play.
- When Polamalu got hurt, everyone expected Thomas to step in. Instead, Will Allen took to the field.
Nothing against Will Allen. He helped give the secondary a boost after returning from a 4 game hiatus in Dallas last year. But Allen is in his 30’s, and is no one’s heir apparent, leading fans to ask in exasperation “WHY isn’t Shamarko in.”
- The answer of course, is that Shamarko was injured. Again.
Thomas missed 5 games after suffering a hamstring injury in the Steelers victory over Carolina and is now down again after suffering another injury. His rookie season was also ruined by injury.
None of this is Thomas’ fault of course. But either way injuries are quickly robbing this young player of valuable time to develop. They’re also robbing the Steelers of opportunities evaluate a Thomas to see if he’s starter material.
- Injuries can and do derail promising NFL careers as Ki Jana Carter and Mike Sherrard can attest.
There are exceptions – Greg Lloyd spent his rookie season on IR and missed the first 8 games of his second season on IR, but developed into a Steelers legend. Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau and Carnell Lake had better hope Thomas can follow his example.