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An important history lesson for you TRUE Steelers fans!

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Old 07-31-2006, 12:22 AM   #1
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Default Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

Clark: I didn't come here to be a backup

By Joe Rutter
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, July 31, 2006


The gesture was subtle, yet it spoke volumes to Ryan Clark.
Despite getting a four-year contract and $1.7 million signing bonus to join the Steelers, Clark opened the team's first practice Sunday at St. Vincent College in Latrobe working with the second-team defense.

The 26-year-old free safety alternated series with Tyrone Carter and got some repetitions alongside Pro Bowl strong safety Troy Polamalu.

But it was Carter who got the first crack with the first team, and that didn't go unnoticed by Clark.

"I'm not running all the 'ones,' so I feel like I do have to compete for a job," Clark said. "I don't have a problem with that at all. In fact, I like it that way."

Knowing they were going to lose dependable free safety Chris Hope to free agency, the Steelers made a pre-emptive move March 14 by luring Clark away from the Washington Redskins.

A four-year veteran and two-year starter with Washington, Clark said he signed the contract knowing he wouldn't immediately be handed Hope's starting position. The Steelers still had Carter, who is entering his seventh season, on the payroll. Then, they used their second-round draft pick on Syracuse safety Anthony Smith.

"That spot is open, and the best man is going to win," Clark said. "The way I look at it is, if there's competition and it's tight, that means we all can play, and it only will make the team better."

Still, Clark let it be known he won't be satisfied playing behind Carter, Smith or anyone else.

"I want to be that guy," he said. "I didn't come here to be a backup. I came here wanting to start for the world champions. That's my goal. That's what I pray for every night. But, if it doesn't end up that way, I'll do my role and handle my assignments."

The night before the first practice, Clark said he stayed up until midnight studying the Steelers' playbook.

"I'm trying to get the system down," he said. "If I can't keep up with the guys, mentally, I'm not going to be able to play physically. I want to know the playbook like the guys that have been here for years. I don't want there to be any drop-off."

Carter acknowledged that his familiarity with the Steelers' scheme gives him a slight advantage -- at least, initially -- over Clark. Although he hasn't started a game since 2003, when he was with the New York Jets, the 30-year-old Carter played in 25 games the past two seasons and is entering his second camp with the Steelers.

"I have a step ahead by knowing the defense a little more," Carter said. "But Ryan has started in this league for two years. He did a great job in Washington, and he's a smart player. I don't think it will take him long to learn everything."

Carter said he won't be taking his opportunity to start for the defending Super Bowl champions lightly.

"They're not giving anybody anything here," he said. "You've got to earn it. The only thing I can control is doing my best, and that's what I'm going to do -- give my best. I'll do what I can as a football player to help the team, and I'm going to be accountable.

"Whatever happens, I'll know I did my best."

Time will tell if it's good enough to beat out Clark, the only player brought in from another organization competing for a starting job.

Last season, Clark had 72 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a half sack while playing in the same secondary as Redskins Pro Bowl free safety Sean Taylor.

Like Polamalu, Taylor thrives on improvisation and confusing the quarterback. Clark thinks he can use the experience of playing alongside Taylor to his advantage while adjusting to Polamalu's free-wheeling style.

"They're similar in the fact they make a lot of plays that other people can't make," Clark said. "Sometimes, they're going to make mistakes, and the reason they came to get me was because I played with a guy like Sean. Troy can do his thing; I just want to fit in."
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Old 07-31-2006, 12:29 AM   #2
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Default Re: Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

After every interview I'm liking this kid more and more. Has his head on straight with an excellent attitude and I believe he will beat out Carter and Smith and will make a very good replacement for Hope.
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Old 07-31-2006, 12:49 AM   #3
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Default Re: Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

Fiesty. Thanks for the post. Now I DO know who he is. Yeah, I think I'll like him more.

BTW, does anybody have a link to some nice training day photos? Not the movie with Denzel. I love the movie, but I need Steelers training day photos. Ha ha ha. Just kidding about the movie, sorry. I'm in a fun mood.
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Old 07-31-2006, 02:21 AM   #4
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Default Re: Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

Thanx for posting this.. I also believe that clark will b our starting safety beating out smith and carter...
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Old 07-31-2006, 05:01 AM   #5
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Default Re: Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

It's all about attitude. That the guy stayed up until midnight and studied the playbook says a lot about him. I'm much more excited about Clark than, say, Holmes.
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Old 07-31-2006, 07:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

I like this guy's competitive spirit and his very positive attitude. He knows the position isn't going to be handed to him on a silver platter and that he will have to earn it. I definitely think he has what it takes to fit right in.
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Old 07-31-2006, 07:53 AM   #7
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Default Re: Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelersMongol
BTW, does anybody have a link to some nice training day photos?

http://www.post-gazette.com/steelersphoto/

Below Ben throwing the football click on "Next" photo. The first five are of Ben of course, but after that they actually start showing other players on this roster. Enjoy.
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Old 07-31-2006, 08:07 AM   #8
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Default Re: Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

Outstanding....I had mild concerns about a "Super Bowl Hangover"....but I am really liking where this team's head is at this early....
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Old 07-31-2006, 09:11 AM   #9
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Default Re: Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

"I want to be that guy," he said. "I didn't come here to be a backup. I came here wanting to start for the world champions. That's my goal. That's what I pray for every night. But, if it doesn't end up that way, I'll do my role and handle my assignments."

Sounds good to me. I'm hoping this kid wins the job.
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Old 07-31-2006, 12:24 PM   #10
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Default Re: Clark: I didn't come to here to be a backup

I liked the signing of Ryan Clark when it happened. I like it even more now. This guy seems like the Steelers type of player. As soon as he gets our defense down. He will prove to be better then Chris Hope.
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