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Steelers safety Clark to change tune this season

Chaz Palla | Tribune Review - Steelers saftey Ryan Clark during OTAs on the South Side May 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Chaz Palla | Tribune Review</em></div>Steelers saftey Ryan Clark during OTAs on the South Side May 2012.
AP - Pittsburgh Steeelrs safeties Troy Polalmalu, right, and Ryan Clark share a laugh during the first day of NFL football practice at the team's training facility on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pittsburgh Steeelrs safeties Troy Polalmalu, right, and Ryan Clark share a laugh  during the first day of NFL football practice at the team's training facility on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
 

It may just be a personality quirk, but Steelers safety Ryan Clark is a guy who always speaks his mind.

“I probably talk a little too much,” Clark said following an offseason workout session Tuesday.

The malcontented version of Clark may be a thing of the past: He plans to tone it down this season.

“I may be a little less controversial so the young guys can just play and not deal about hearing things about me,” Clark said. “I told my wife that I am going to try to stay out of trouble this year. Hopefully, I will.”

He had no problem placing himself in the limelight last season.

Consider:

• Clark said, “I might as well put him to sleep for real,” after getting fined $40,000 for what he viewed as a clean hit to Baltimore's Ed Dickson.

• He constantly criticized NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, referring to him simply as “Roger” as an admitted sign of disrespect.

• He recently tweeted: “Whoever is snitching on the Saints D should be ashamed of themselves.”

Trying to keep a lower profile is one thing. Succeeding is another.

“No way,” veteran defensive end Brett Keisel said. “I don't believe that one bit.”

Despite having his season, Clark was viewed around the league more for his mouth than as a Pro Bowl safety on the league's best defense.

Clark recorded 100 tackles for the first time and was a big reason the Steelers had the top passing defense.

“He is the quarterback of our defense in the back end,” Keisel said. “Troy (Polamalu) gets a lot of the credit, but Ryan is that safety valve that everyone in the back end relies on to make the right read and calls.”

That was evident in the playoff game against Denver. Clark was forced to sit out because of a sickle cell trait that wreaks havoc with his body in high altitudes.

Denver, who entered the game averaging 152 yards passing, threw for 316 on 10 Tim Tebow completions in a 29-23 loss.

“It was miserable,” Clark said. “There were a lot of scenarios we talked about how we could lose that game. Tim Tebow throwing for 300 yards wasn't one of them.”

Clark is 32 and in the third year of a four-year deal. Even though he said he will play “until I am unable to,” he knows there aren't many more chances of getting back to the Super Bowl.

And for Clark, there is no better Super Bowl than this year's in New Orleans, his hometown.

“I told the guys today to just get me back home,” Clark said. “It may be a very selfish way to look at it. You want to win the Super Bowl every year, but if they get me to this one, I don't have to go back ever again.”

Note: The Steelers signed third-round pick Sean Spence to a four-year contract, leaving first-rounder David DeCastro as the only unsigned draft pick.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can bereached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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