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Shamarko's nickname in the locker room is not 'Sharknado'

Rookie Shamarko Thomas' work ethic and style of play in training camp has earned him a nickname in the Steelers locker room, but it's not what fans have been affectionately calling him so far.


There have been countless references across Steelers blogs, news sites/columns and message boards that address Steelers rookie safety, Shamarko Thomas, as 'Sharknado' in reference to the recent made-for-tv movie. However Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor says the secondary refers to him by another name: "headache."

That headache, Taylor suggests, references two aspects of Thomas: 1) what he will be causing to opponents once he starts playing in the secondary and 2) his persistent questioning of veterans for guidance in his style of play.

"We call him that because a lot of people are going to be catching headaches, or he's going to be catching headaches," Taylor said clarifying the former of the references to Thomas' locker room nickname.

Thomas' reputation in the NCAA at Syracuse University was for his explosion getting around the field. Scouts would refer to him as a 'missile' as he darted about the secondary and to the line of scrimmage and made impact hits that stopped offensive players in their tracks. Thomas says his mentality is to hit, regardless of what Goodell might think, and believes that he can be effective with more power and explosiveness in his game.

There is much excitement to be had over this 2013 4th round draft pick. Hard-hitting and explosive football has long been a well-thought-of trait when analysts talk about the Steelers defense. So in that aspect, it seems that if he develops well he could fit Dick LeBeau's scheme, as defensive coordinator, like a glove. But the latter of references from Taylor as to why Thomas' is called headache is also intriguing.

His relentless intrigue to gain perspective from veteran Pittsburgh safeties, Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu, is flirting with the status of being annoying for Ryan Clark. As Taylor laughs, he paraphrases Clark's response to the rookie's relentless questions to be sort of, "look man, this guy is getting on my nerves."

But that's a beautiful annoyance to have. Taylor's light-heartedness when talking about it gives off the impression that Clark means it in a sort of big brother kind of way. If you've ever had that younger sibling who keeps asking questions because they are passionate about what you are trying to teach them, or you have been that younger sibling, you can understand Clark's feelings all too well.

It means that Thomas recognizes and has a great respect for the Pro-Bowl-caliber tandem of safeties on this team, and the Hall of Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Thomas acknowledges that if he wasn't asking questions, it would lead to more mistakes on the field.

The fact that he can approach his opportunity in Pittsburgh with both the passion to hit harder and move faster, as well as to have the wisdom and humility enough to take as many pointers from the championship veterans that the team has, speaks volumes to the potential that Kevin Colbert drafted in Thomas.

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