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Cam Thomas misses California sun, jet skiing in the winter

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The Steelers signed the swing defensive lineman Thomas this offseason, not even a year since he was jet skiing outside San Diego during the winter. It's worth it, in his mind, to play for Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers nose tackle Cam Thomas must enjoy season and time zone changes.

When the North Moore High School (N.C.) product stayed close to home in choosing the University of North Carolina for his college career, it would be the last time he'd move within the same climate and time zone.

Thomas was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Moving from North Carolina to San Diego was something of a cultural change for Thomas, at least from a weather standpoint.

"I got spoiled in San Diego with the weather all the time," Thomas told Fayetteville Observer reporter Andrew Tie. "When that storm stuff was going on out here (during the winter), I was out there jet skiing."

Thomas was back in the area recently, helping coach at a youth football camp put on by Jimmy Raye, the Senior Offensive Assistant under Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith.

Tie wrote Thomas chose the Steelers in free agency for the opportunity to play for Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and referred to the franchise as the "Lords of the Rings" for the team's six Super Bowl championships.

"Looking at the guys who was on the championship teams, you're talking about guys like Joey Porter, Troy Polamalu," Thomas said. "You got to be nasty. We need to get back to that mind set."

Not just getting back to it, but learning it again and teaching it to others. Thomas, his coaches have said, was brought in to be a utility defensive lineman, likely seeing time at both nose tackle and defensive end. He signed a 2-year, $4 million contract this offseason, before the team drafted versatile defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt in the second round this year.

Those additions, along with a full set of starts and snaps for emerging star Cameron Heyward, are expected to help return Pittsburgh's defensive line to a place of prominence. There are signs suggesting DE Brett Keisel will return around training camp, but for now, it would appear Thomas and Tuitt will compete for one of the team's starting defensive end positions.