The Steelers now have two starters that no other NFL team wanted.
Fullback Will Johnson couldn’t even get a training camp invitation two years ago before signing with Pittsburgh in advance of the 2012 season. Inside linebacker Kion Wilson was out of the league last season, unwanted even for a practice squad.
When Wilson finally got on the field last week against Tennessee after Larry Foote went down, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis couldn’t help but notice the intensity with which he played.
“He’s physical, he played downhill, he put his face in blocks, he got off the block, he hustled to the football and made tackles, and that’s what they want,” Lewis said. “He’s watched everybody else do this and he’s like, ‘This is my shot. I’ve got to go do this.’ That’s the greatest part.”
One play away
Anything can happen in an NFL game, as Steelers rookie safety Shamarko Thomas discovered in his first one. When cornerback Cortez Allen was injured against the Titans, Thomas found himself playing out of position at nickel back.
“He’d better get used to it,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “You never know what’s going to unfold in the game. You are only one snap away from playing in the nickel but playing strong safety all the time, too. We tell these players all the time, you’d better practice like you are in the game.”
Clark stays steady
Ryan Clark said he didn’t change anything — his film room time, his preparation, his workout regimen — following the upset loss to the Titans. He prefers consistency to change-with-the-flow alterations, even after the Steelers lost a home opener for the first time since 2002.
“I’ve always had this philosophy, and it may sound simple to some and dumb to others, but if a loss or an opponent or something changes the way I work, then something was wrong with the way I was working before,” he said. “So, for me, it is the same as I was working last week. I’m going to go out and practice the same way I did to start the season, the way I did for the Tennessee Titans.”