LATROBE, Pa. – It's been a good week so far for the Steelers secondary, as starting safeties Shamarko Thomas and Mike Mitchell are on the field together for the first time since training camp began.
"It's training camp and to me it's been more frustrating than anything not practicing," said Mitchell, who returned to practice after battling a hamstring injury. "I am relieved I can practice every day. I don't have to hear from my teammates, coaches or dad. I can be like everybody else practicing. Also for my own peace of mind knowing I am not hurt anymore."
With their third preseason game approaching on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field, getting on the same page with each other is a key as the week progresses.
"We have to get on the same page communication wise," said Thomas. "Being out there in the real game action is different. We can communicate on the field all day as it's moving slow. In a game when the bullets are moving fast we have to see where we are at and this week will be a great experience."
Mitchell agrees that working together right now is imperative not just for the duo, but the defense in general.
"I think it's critical for our defense as a whole," said Mitchell. "I am guy that talks a lot from a communication standpoint from getting us in the right defense and checks, letting the guys hear my voice. I think that is critical.
"The chemistry of how Shamarko likes to do things, getting us in the best position possible to execute what the coaches are asking us to execute, will be critical."
Thomas said that he will lean on Mitchell's veteran leadership to help him as he takes over the role vacated by the retirement of Troy Polamalu. And for Mitchell, that leadership role is one he takes seriously. He hopes his work ethic, arriving early, staying late, always watching film, rubs off, but he is also willing to be more vocal moving forward.
"I think my coaches want me to be more of a vocal leader and I am going to work on that," said Mitchell. "I am a guy that moves to the beat of my own drum and leads by actions. I am not a big rah-rah guy. But if the coaches need me to be that, that, I will.
"For Shamarko to come up under my wing one is scary because I am older and people are coming up under my wing. It's an awesome thing too just to share my knowledge with a younger player up and coming. It's a beautiful thing about football."