Steelers defensive end Thomas is finding success on the field
It didn't take Steelers defensive end Cam Thomas long to adjust to a scheme that demands he sacrifice numbers for results.
“We're not thinking in terms of making plays but be the reason why others make plays,” Thomas said Monday. “If you take care of your responsibilities, the play will come to you.
“I can't be thinking about making a play. I have to be patient because coach (Dick) LeBeau's defensive philosophy has worked here for a long time.”
Thomas appears increasingly confident and comfortable in the Steelers' 3-4 defense.
He proved too much to handle for the Buffalo Bills in a 19-16 preseason win Saturday at Heinz Field.
“He played mostly nose tackle in San Diego, but seeing how quickly he moves, he's in the perfect position at defensive end,” said offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert. “He brings different dimensions to the defensive line because of his athleticism, which makes the defense better.”
Thomas, who starts opposite right defensive end Cameron Heyward, tallied four total tackles against the Bills. He also helped the Steelers control the line of scrimmage and funneled the Bills running backs into the arms of linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier, who combined for 14 tackles.
That, of course, is what the Steelers were hoping to get out of the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Thomas when they inked him to a two-year, $4 million deal earlier this year. Thomas wasn't much of a pass-rusher in San Diego's 3-4 set, but he was solid against the run.
“I'm not going to limit myself,” Thomas said. “If they want me to stop the run, I'll do that. If they want me to apply pressure on the quarterback, I'll do it. It doesn't matter to me.”
The Steelers' AFC North rivals made moves to improve their ground games. Thomas could be the right fit for a defense that finished 21st against the run in 2013.
“I played against (AFC North teams) when I was in San Diego, so it's about not going outside your scheme,” he said. “You have to do what you're supposed to do. You can't play at their tempo.
“Everything is smash-mouth football in the AFC North compared to the West Coast offenses that rely heavily on the pass. It basically comes down to assignment football.”
Thomas handled his assignments without much difficulty against the Bills, who totaled only 64 of their 150 rushing yards in the first half. Thomas is likely to face a different challenge Thursday when the Steelers face the more explosive Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Wild Wednesday proves Steelers rule
- Steelers submit application to play host to Super Bowl in 2023
- QB Roethlisberger embracing teaching role with Steelers’ offense
- Steelers wide receiver Wheaton embraces move to slot position
- Steelers CB Allen working to regain form, make an impact
- Rossi: Moats looks to make a splash with Steelers
- Australians rule punting competition for chance to play for Steelers