Shamarko Thomas looks to rebound from bite on play fake

USA TODAY Sports

The rookie safety got burned on a play-action pass from Bruce Gradkowski to Plaxico Burress. It was a learning moment for Thomas.

Two undeniable facts: rookies tend to be more anxious than veterans, and experience is a big advantage in the NFL. Steelers rookie safety Shamarko Thomas got a dose of both of those facts Wednesday, after he bit on a play fake from Steelers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.

The mistake allowed wide receiver Plaxico Burress to slip behind the defense and score a 55-yard touchdown - or as Tribune-Review reporter Mark Kaboly wrote, "...allowed the methodical Burress to get behind the defense for an easy touchdown."

It's likely a veteran receiver doesn't want the adjective "methodical" used to describe him, due to the notion it's a more positive spin on the word "slow." Credit to Kaboly, it's just a great line.

What it means more than anything is Thomas had his Rookie Moment, and one he likely won't forget. The Steelers' defense prides itself in not giving up the big play, and that's because they typically have a deep safety who doesn't find himself out of position often.

Ryan Clark has been that deep safety for five years now, and the Steelers have allowed fewer passing plays of 20 yards or more over the league in that time.

It also subtly shows why physical attributes can often lose out to savvy play; the big knock on Thomas entering the NFL was his lack of prototypical height (he stands around 5-foot-8). For Burress, entering this season, it's his "methodical" speed.

One doesn't need speed to catch a pass when he's wide open, and height won't help one recover after biting hard on a play fake.

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