Steelers vs. Titans: Shamarko Thomas feels his keys are key

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The hard-hitting safety is confident he can make plays in the run game if he reads the keys of the Titans offense - which contains one of the biggest playmaking threats in the NFL.

Titans running back Chris Johnson can take one play at any point in the game and turn the whole game in Tennessee's favor.

Steelers rookie safety Shamarko Thomas realizes that. He told Tribune Review reporter Ralph N. Paulk in Saturday's edition, "If I read my run keys, I believe I can make some plays in the backfield."

How much time Thomas will get in there remains to be seen, but the Titans can play deep in sub-packages with Johnson still on the field and continue getting him the ball due to his dynamic, all-around ability.

"In my first (preseason) game I was nervous just trying to get a tackle," Thomas told Paulk. "Troy (Polamalu) and Ryan (Clark) told me to slow the game down and read my keys. The next game I came up with big-time plays."

Thomas will definitely see time with the special teams units, one of several players who were not on last year's team. Along with him, Jarvis Jones, Zoltan Mesko, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Felix Jones will likely contribute against the Titans Sunday.

The Titans defeated the Steelers 26-23 last year, led by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and wide receiver Kenny Britt. The Steelers were caught late in the game with James Harrison in coverage on tight end Jared Cook for a 25-yard gain that set up the eventual game-winning touchdown.

Thomas and Jones weren't brought in specifically because of that play, but the depth the Steelers have in their nickel packages and pass-rushing looks figures to be much better than last year.

They just need to read their keys.

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