Ryan Clark gaining respect as he goes

The Steelers and Redskins meet tonight in a preseason game in Washington. It will mark a reunion for Steelers safety Ryan Clark and his old teammates, as Clark fights once again for a starting job.

LATROBE – Sean Taylor this week granted only his third interview to Washington reporters since his best friend, Ryan Clark, was allowed to leave the Redskins and sign with the Steelers for bargain prices.

Clark was a bargain at $7 million for four years, considering the Redskins replaced him with Adam Archuleta at $35 million for seven years.

Archuleta has since been traded after a disastrous season for the Redskins. They lost five more games without Clark; dropped from 9th to 31st in total defense; from 10th to 23rd in pass defense; 3rd to 30th in yards allowed per attempt; 14th to 32nd in interceptions; 15th to 30th in touchdown passes allowed; and 3rd to 32nd in defensive passer rating.

Redskins players, writers and fans pointed to the loss of Clark as a big reason for the team's lousy pass defense in general and Taylor's lackluster play in particular.

Taylor didn't say that the loss of Clark was the difference, but then again he didn't say much of anything.

He was moody and grew more so without his best friend. In what was expected to be a finger-pointing session this week -- with Clark and the Steelers coming to town for tonight's 8 o'clock exhibition game -- Taylor only said that "I don't think anybody in the NFL is tied to each other."

He left his relationship with Clark off the public record, saying only that it was "personal."

Clark, who started 12 games for the Steelers last season, said his return to Washington -- where he lined up at safety next to Taylor for 22 of his 28 starts – means only that "I should be comfortable. Other that that, it's just a preseason game and I'm still trying to make the team."

That's become the mantra – "still trying to make the team" – of a player who's never had anything given to him. Clark came into the league undrafted and was released by the New York Giants in favor of Brent Alexander.

Clark was then let go by Washington for the since-departed (and much more expensive) Archuleta. And then he had to battle Tyrone Carter for the starting free safety job with the Steelers last year.

He's still battling for a starting job, this time against the extraordinarily gifted Anthony Smith, and it appears that Clark is winning again. He's expected to start tonight, but he knows he'll never really have it made.

"People like to see the athlete," Clark said of Smith. "He's obviously taller than me. It's obvious he has more muscles than I have. He makes the big plays, the flashy plays, the one-handed catch against Carolina, stuff like that. And that's what people want, from the outside looking in. They want to see that flash and dash out there. And I think he is going to be a good player. I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to be special. But I think there are a lot of things I do for the team that, unless you coach, unless you're watching that film every day, that you're not going to see.

"To the naked eye it looks like, okay, on this play (number) 25 didn't do something, but he might've done a lot. I just really felt that last year, with me and Tyrone, it was a competition. And this year, I felt like coming in it was more so (Smith's) job to lose, and that's cool."

That's what Clark expected in the spring: He thought Smith was being set up to win the free safety job. But Coach Mike Tomlin obviously doesn't give jobs away based on potential. The fact that Tomlin was a former DB coach may have something to do with Clark being appreciated more for the little things.

"Maybe so. I don't really know," Clark said. "I can be honest: I think having a new coach come in really helped me. If you look at last year, with the things I did for the first 11-12 weeks of the season, even the week I got benched when I tried to come back from my injury, the week before that (former DB coach Darren Perry) had told me I was having one of the best years he'd seen at that position. So it was a tough situation for me, but I knew that Coach (Bill) Cowher liked me. I know sometimes in that business, that happens. And it's funny, going through the whole thing, Anthony still sleeps at my house. That's the good thing about it. We keep it as a friendly competition. I root for him; he roots for me. I think that's because we know that on Sunday they're going to put out there who they want to put out there. All we do is give it our best, so it's been fun."

The Clark-Smith relationship in Pittsburgh sounds similar to the Clark-Taylor relationship in Washington.

"That's my boy," Clark said of Taylor. "He texts me; we talk. We developed a good relationship while we were there."

Are the rumors true, that Taylor believes the Redskins made a big mistake in letting Clark go?

"I'm not sure," Clark said. "We really don't talk about it. When we talk, we don't really talk about football. I think he has enough going on with other stuff so we don't even bother with that. Football will take care of itself."

It always has for the underrated Ryan Clark.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nLATROBE – Sean Taylor this week granted only his third interview to Washington reporters since his best friend, Ryan Clark, was allowed to leave the Redskins and sign with the Steelers for bargain prices.\r\n\r\n

Clark was a bargain at $7 million for four years, considering the Redskins replaced him with Adam Archuleta at $35 million for seven years.\r\n\r\n

Archuleta has since been traded after a disastrous season for the Redskins. They lost five more games without Clark; dropped from 9th to 31st in total defense; from 10th to 23rd in pass defense; 3rd to 30th in yards allowed per attempt; 14th to 32nd in interceptions; 15th to 30th in touchdown passes allowed; and 3rd to 32nd in defensive passer rating.\r\n\r\n

Redskins players, writers and fans pointed to the loss of Clark as a big reason for the team's lousy pass defense in general and Taylor's lackluster play in particular.\r\n\r\n

Taylor didn't say that the loss of Clark was the difference, but then again he didn't say much of anything.\r\n\r\n

He was moody and grew more so without his best friend. In what was expected to be a finger-pointing session this week -- with Clark and the Steelers coming to town for tonight's 8 o'clock exhibition game -- Taylor only said that \"I don't think anybody in the NFL is tied to each other.\"\r\n\r\n

He left his relationship with Clark off the public record, saying only that it was \"personal.\"\r\n\r\n

Clark, who started 12 games for the Steelers last season, said his return to Washington -- where he lined up at safety next to Taylor for 22 of his 28 starts – means only that \"I should be comfortable. Other that that, it's just a preseason game and I'm still trying to make the team.\"\r\n\r\n

That's become the mantra – \"still trying to make the team\" – of a player who's never had anything given to him. Clark came into the league undrafted and was released by the New York Giants in favor of Brent Alexander.\r\n\r\n

Clark was then let go by Washington for the since-departed (and much more expensive) Archuleta. And then he had to battle Tyrone Carter for the starting free safety job with the Steelers last year.\r\n\r\n

He's still battling for a starting job, this time against the extraordinarily gifted Anthony Smith, and it appears that Clark is winning again. He's expected to start tonight, but he knows he'll never really have it made.\r\n\r\n

\"People like to see the athlete,\" Clark said of Smith. \"He's obviously taller than me. It's obvious he has more muscles than I have. He makes the big plays, the flashy plays, the one-handed catch against Carolina, stuff like that. And that's what people want, from the outside looking in. They want to see that flash and dash out there. And I think he is going to be a good player. I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to be special. But I think there are a lot of things I do for the team that, unless you coach, unless you're watching that film every day, that you're not going to see.\r\n\r\n

\"To the naked eye it looks like, okay, on this play (number) 25 didn't do something, but he might've done a lot. I just really felt that last year, with me and Tyrone, it was a competition. And this year, I felt like coming in it was more so (Smith's) job to lose, and that's cool.\"\r\n\r\n

That's what Clark expected in the spring: He thought Smith was being set up to win the free safety job. But Coach Mike Tomlin obviously doesn't give jobs away based on potential. The fact that Tomlin was a former DB coach may have something to do with Clark being appreciated more for the little things.\r\n\r\n

\"Maybe so. I don't really know,\" Clark said. \"I can be honest: I think having a new coach come in really helped me. If you look at last year, with the things I did for the first 11-12 weeks of the season, even the week I got benched when I tried to come back from my injury, the week before that (former DB coach Darren Perry) had told me I was having one of the best years he'd seen at that position. So it was a tough situation for me, but I knew that Coach (Bill) Cowher liked me. I know sometimes in that business, that happens. And it's funny, going through the whole thing, Anthony still sleeps at my house. That's the good thing about it. We keep it as a friendly competition. I root for him; he roots for me. I think that's because we know that on Sunday they're going to put out there who they want to put out there. All we do is give it our best, so it's been fun.\"\r\n\r\n

The Clark-Smith relationship in Pittsburgh sounds similar to the Clark-Taylor relationship in Washington.\r\n\r\n

\"That's my boy,\" Clark said of Taylor. \"He texts me; we talk. We developed a good relationship while we were there.\"\r\n\r\n

Are the rumors true, that Taylor believes the Redskins made a big mistake in letting Clark go?\r\n\r\n

\"I'm not sure,\" Clark said. \"We really don't talk about it. When we talk, we don't really talk about football. I think he has enough going on with other stuff so we don't even bother with that. Football will take care of itself.\"\r\n\r\n

It always has for the underrated Ryan Clark.","mobileBody":" LATROBE – Sean Taylor this week granted only his third interview to Washington reporters since his best friend, Ryan Clark, was allowed to leave the Redskins and sign with the Steelers for bargain prices.

Clark was a bargain at $7 million for four years, considering the Redskins replaced him with Adam Archuleta at $35 million for seven years.

Archuleta has since been traded after a disastrous season for the Redskins. They lost five more games without Clark; dropped from 9th to 31st in total defense; from 10th to 23rd in pass defense; 3rd to 30th in yards allowed per attempt; 14th to 32nd in interceptions; 15th to 30th in touchdown passes allowed; and 3rd to 32nd in defensive passer rating.

Redskins players, writers and fans pointed to the loss of Clark as a big reason for the team's lousy pass defense in general and Taylor's lackluster play in particular.

Taylor didn't say that the loss of Clark was the difference, but then again he didn't say much of anything.

He was moody and grew more so without his best friend. In what was expected to be a finger-pointing session this week -- with Clark and the Steelers coming to town for tonight's 8 o'clock exhibition game -- Taylor only said that \"I don't think anybody in the NFL is tied to each other.\"

He left his relationship with Clark off the public record, saying only that it was \"personal.\"

Clark, who started 12 games for the Steelers last season, said his return to Washington -- where he lined up at safety next to Taylor for 22 of his 28 starts – means only that \"I should be comfortable. Other that that, it's just a preseason game and I'm still trying to make the team.\"

That's become the mantra – \"still trying to make the team\" – of a player who's never had anything given to him. Clark came into the league undrafted and was released by the New York Giants in favor of Brent Alexander.

Clark was then let go by Washington for the since-departed (and much more expensive) Archuleta. And then he had to battle Tyrone Carter for the starting free safety job with the Steelers last year.

He's still battling for a starting job, this time against the extraordinarily gifted Anthony Smith, and it appears that Clark is winning again. He's expected to start tonight, but he knows he'll never really have it made.

\"People like to see the athlete,\" Clark said of Smith. \"He's obviously taller than me. It's obvious he has more muscles than I have. He makes the big plays, the flashy plays, the one-handed catch against Carolina, stuff like that. And that's what people want, from the outside looking in. They want to see that flash and dash out there. And I think he is going to be a good player. I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to be special. But I think there are a lot of things I do for the team that, unless you coach, unless you're watching that film every day, that you're not going to see.

\"To the naked eye it looks like, okay, on this play (number) 25 didn't do something, but he might've done a lot. I just really felt that last year, with me and Tyrone, it was a competition. And this year, I felt like coming in it was more so (Smith's) job to lose, and that's cool.\"

That's what Clark expected in the spring: He thought Smith was being set up to win the free safety job. But Coach Mike Tomlin obviously doesn't give jobs away based on potential. The fact that Tomlin was a former DB coach may have something to do with Clark being appreciated more for the little things.

\"Maybe so. I don't really know,\" Clark said. \"I can be honest: I think having a new coach come in really helped me. If you look at last year, with the things I did for the first 11-12 weeks of the season, even the week I got benched when I tried to come back from my injury, the week before that (former DB coach Darren Perry) had told me I was having one of the best years he'd seen at that position. So it was a tough situation for me, but I knew that Coach (Bill) Cowher liked me. I know sometimes in that business, that happens. And it's funny, going through the whole thing, Anthony still sleeps at my house. That's the good thing about it. We keep it as a friendly competition. I root for him; he roots for me. I think that's because we know that on Sunday they're going to put out there who they want to put out there. All we do is give it our best, so it's been fun.\"

The Clark-Smith relationship in Pittsburgh sounds similar to the Clark-Taylor relationship in Washington.

\"That's my boy,\" Clark said of Taylor. \"He texts me; we talk. We developed a good relationship while we were there.\"

Are the rumors true, that Taylor believes the Redskins made a big mistake in letting Clark go?

\"I'm not sure,\" Clark said. \"We really don't talk about it. When we talk, we don't really talk about football. I think he has enough going on with other stuff so we don't even bother with that. Football will take care of itself.\"

It always has for the underrated Ryan Clark.","skipOnMobile":false,"media":[],"dateOverride":"2007-08-17T19:06:00","authorOverride":"Jim Wexell","role":"SteelCityInsider.com","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:434139]","mainImage":{},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:434139]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"595","name":"LSU"},{"id":"10032","name":"LSU - Football"},{"id":"182","name":"Pittsburgh 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