Steelers agreed to terms with No. 111 overall pick S Shamarko Thomas on a four-year contract.
Thomas is expected to learn at the foot of Ryan Clark for one year before pushing for a starting job in 2014. He proved he can hit at Syracuse, racking up 16.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks and four forced fumbles. The question is if Thomas can cover. Clark is entering a contract year and will turn 34 in October.
Steelers signed OT Guy Whimper, formerly of the Jaguars.
They added UDFA LB Terence Garvin, as well. Whimper, 30, shouldn't be in the league anymore. Pro Football Focus charged Whimper with a league-high 14 sacks allowed in 2011, and he graded out 74th-of-80 qualifying offensive tackles last season in Jacksonville. He'll compete for a roster spot in camp.
The Union-Tribune San Diego reports the Chargers "haven't reached out" to free agent OT Max Starks.
Starks is the best left tackle on the market while the Chargers have a compelling need on Philip Rivers' blindside, so it's a surprise, particularly after the Bolts went hard after Bryant McKinnie. Longtime reporter Kevin Acee expects the Chargers to go into the season with King Dunlap at left tackle. Dunlap has made just 19 starts in 52 career games.
Steelers DBs coach Carnell Lake believes sixth-round CB Terry Hawthorne has "all the physical tools."
"What I like about Terry is that he has a lot of upside potential that I see in him," Lake said. "He is big. He is fast. He doesn't mind tackling, and he can play press coverage well, kind of in the same way as an Ike Taylor." The Steelers clearly believe Hawthorne has starting potential, but his biggest 2013 impact should come on special teams.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette doesn't expect the Steelers to re-sign free agent OT Max Starks.
Beat writer Ed Bouchette doesn't completely rule it out, but believes the Steelers are serious about getting younger and more athletic up front. Starks hasn't made a single visit since the start of free agency, but that could change now that Bryant McKinnie is off the market.
After allegedly falling out of shape during the 2012 season, OLB LaMarr Woodley said he's "getting after it" in the Steelers' offseason conditioning program.
"I've been training since the middle of February," he said. Woodley has missed nine games over the past two seasons and registered just four sacks across 13 appearances last year. The Steelers need more out of him. They can field a special pass-rush duo along with rookie Jarvis Jones if Woodley gets in shape.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin disputed LBs coach Keith Butler's assessment of ILB Sean Spence (knee surgery) and expects Spence to make "a complete recovery."
Spence is recovering from a torn ACL and LCL, dislocated knee, and nerve damage behind the knee. He'll spend 2013 on injured reserve, and try to come back in 2014. Tomlin is more optimistic than Butler about Spence's future.