With one week to go before the regular season opener at Heinz Field against the Miami Dolphins, Clark remains a starter in name only. Head coach Bill Cowher refuses to name one after the position was vacated when Chris Hope signed as a free agent with Tennessee.
So the Steelers went into the preseason with Clark battling veteran
Tyrone Carter for the
Clark was a two-year starter with the Redskins before signing a
contract with the Steelers that included a $1.7-million signing
bonus. Clark is getting a
little frustrated by the process.
"It doesn't have to be that big of a deal where they sit us down or
anything like that; just
say it," said Clark. "It's getting to the point where you just want
him to say it. Either way,
we're both going to play a lot; we're both going to contribute. But
letting us know who the
starter is would kind of let us settle into our roles.
"You just want it to be over."
Slowing down the process may be the rapid development of rookie
Anthony Smith, a
third-round pick in this year's draft.
Smith leads the Steelers with 12 preseason tackles and also has two
sack and three pass deflections. His hit on Philadelphia return man
J.R. Reid on a punt last
Saturday was continually played on ESPN.
Clark, who started the second preseason game, has eight tackles.
Carter, who started the
first and third preseason contests, has five tackles.
"All of us have played well," said Clark, who should get the start in
Thursday against Carolina. Cowher continues to rotate Clark and
Carter with the first team
defense not just with each game, but in each practice.
"I think I've played well, Ty's played well. And Anthony has made a
strong case for himself.
They just need to pick the best guy and let him go out and play."
Carter, who played extensively in the Steelers' nickel and quarter
defenses last season,
feels he's had the advantage throughout the process since he's been
with the Steelers for
nearly two seasons, while Clark and Smith are newcomers. Since the
free safety position
makes the defensive calls in the secondary, Carter is more
comfortable with the process.
"You just have to take advantage of your opportunity to be out there
when you get it," said
Carter. "When your number is called, you just try to make the most
out of it.
"I think I've played to the best of my ability. You don't always get
the opportunity to make
a lot of plays. But I haven't made any mental errors. I've been out
there lining people up
and making the right calls."
That's where Clark has suffered throughout the process. Not only is
he learning the
Steelers' terminology, he's also trying to get acquainted with how
his new teammates play.
"It's difficult to get in a groove with certain guys when one day
you're with the twos and
the next day you're with the ones," Clark said. "But unless you're a
guy like Troy
(Polamalu), you're competing every year. I've just never been in a
situation where the
coaches said, ‘These two guys are competing.' When I was in
competed. You were just trying to play."
Courtesy of the Observer-Reporter
Clark growing weary of safety battle
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