Thomas trying to get a head start

Defensive backs Coach Carnell Lake was singing the praises of rookie safety Shamarko Thomas after the Steelers drafted him, saying the fourth-rounder the team traded up to get could have been taken in the first round if he were just a few inches taller.

But Lake wasn't complaining, happy that the 5-9, 217 pound Thomas landed with the Steelers. And Thomas is happy as well.

"There are some people that think I am too short, but I am just happy I am here," said Thomas. "My 'too short' got me here, so I am happy to be a part of Steelers Nation."

Thomas, who drew praise from second-year pick Le'Veon Bell the moment he was drafted, was also happy that the team thought highly enough of him to trade up for him.

"It definitely reassured me," said Thomas. "It's a great opportunity to play for the Steelers, get out here and fly around. I am trying to learn as fast as possible, get a little head start. The veterans already know it, they are already up here. They know it.

"I know that as a rookie, you have to get your feet wet and special teams is a key to making the team."

Not long after many of the Steelers' rookies were drafted, their phones started buzzing. It was mostly friends and family they were hearing from, but there were a few others that reached out to them as well.

"(LaMarr) Woodley called me, Troy (Polamalu) called me and Ben (Roethlisberger) texted me. Ike (Taylor) called me and congratulated me," said No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones. "All those guys congratulated me and welcomed me to the Steelers. It was great to hear from those guys.

"It was fun just to see those guys calling me and texting me. (They are players) I really look up to. I can't wait to get in the locker room with those guys and just learn from them. It's definitely a blessing to be on the field with guys like Troy and Woodley. It's definitely a blessing."

He wasn't the only one hearing from his new teammates.

"Ben sent me a text after I was selected," said Landry Jones, a quarterback from Oklahoma. "For a guy who played so long in the league, it's huge for him to reach out.

"Learning from Ben is great opportunity. For me being here is a lifetime dream. You dream as a little kid to be a pro football player and now you are out here learning and doing all of this stuff."

As the draft unfolded, and Jarvis Jones remained on the board, it made everyone in the Steelers' draft room smile. With each passing selection, their chances of getting the player many considered the best pass rusher in the game increased.

While it made team personnel happy, dropping some could easily disappoint a player. But that wasn't the case in Jones' situation. He feels he landed in the perfect place.

"I'm glad I slipped. At the end of the day, those guys are picking early for a reason," said Jones. "I landed right where I wanted to be. I don't think anything of it. This team chose me for a reason, because they wanted me to be here, and I fully accept that. Those teams passed on me for a reason. They didn't want me to be there, so I fully accept that. I'm just going to continue to get better, do everything my coaches ask me to do and just love being a Pittsburgh Steeler."

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