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.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers vs. Titans: The time to send a message is now
- Roethlisberger needs young offensive line to step up Sunday
- Weekend Checkdown heading into Week 1
- Steelers Injury Report: Johnson, Jones both probable
- Harbaugh living out Tomlin's prediction
- Ramon Foster interview: Steelers guard talks about zone running, goals for 2013 and Mike Golic, Jr.
- LaMarr Woodley: 'We have to do what we didn't do last year'
- Ravens Super Bowl Hangover performance is example of why nothing else matters but 'getting in'
- The case for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013: Part Three
- Breaking down quarterbacks in their first game against Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau
- Zoltan Mesko grew up a Steelers fan in Cleveland