Texts from Troy Polamalu help Steelers safety Shamarko Thomas improve

PITTSBURGH -- Shamarko Thomas blew an assignment against Jacksonville. He didn’t cover the sideline on a Clay Harbor touchdown when cornerback B.W. Webb thought he had help. It happens, but Thomas wasn’t happy about it.

Apparently the first thing he did is text the man he’s replacing.

Thomas said he sought guidance from the recently retired Troy Polamalu, who has served as a de facto coach to the third-year Steelers safety.

Polamalu, likely a future Hall of Fame safety after a 12-year career with Pittsburgh, quickly responded to Thomas.

“I came out here, texted Troy, and he said, 'Stay disciplined, do your job,'” Thomas said. “I told him, 'thank you.'”

Thomas, who had missed part of training camp with a hamstring injury, had a cleaner performance Sunday against Green Bay. He didn’t miss any obvious assignments and blitzed off the edge for a sack of Scott Tolzien.

Thomas isn’t trying to replace Polamalu – he plans to craft his own identity -- but he wants to absorb all of Polamalu’s knowledge.

“I talk to Troy all the time,” Thomas said. “All I do is listen, say 'thank you' at the end for the support. I was like, ‘Troy’s right.’”