Just call him Captain Clark now

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Ryan Clark will walk to the 50 for the coin toss Sunday afternoon for the first time since high school. He is a first-time captain after 12 years in the NFL, and Clark said he won't change a thing about his approach to leadership.

"Being the captain won't change me," said Clark, who will serve as one of four captains along with Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey and Brett Keisel. "I remember Keis saying he learned he had to be more outspoken when he became a captain. I got that part down."

Never at a loss for words when reporters and cameramen approach, Clark never sought the captaincy. Even though he started 36 consecutive games at LSU, he never was given that honor there. In 2012, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin approached him about being a captain for the game against Washington because he played for the Redskins for two seasons. Clark declined.

"I said, 'I'm good coach. I just want to stick to my routine,' " Clark said. "So, going out for the coin toss in a way will be weird for me, but it's a blessing and an honor. When a team like this picks you [to be a captain], it will be exciting for me. It will be nerve-wracking but exciting all the same.

"The reasons I wasn't a captain were because we had very good candidates in front of me. That's the way it goes. It was never a big deal for me.

"I never had to be the guy speaking in the huddle, the person in front of everyone. I wanted to work hard and show genuine love and concern for people. I was always the guy who did dinners, had people over for Thanksgiving. Those things are leadership to me. Getting to go out for the coin toss is a plus. It lets everyone else know that you care for your team, but it's the little things you get to do to touch people's lives that matter."

Johnson 80-85 percent

Fullback Will Johnson, who injured his hamstring in the preseason finale at Carolina, went through individual and 7-on-7 drills Wednesday but did not participate in the team portion of practice.

Johnson said his hamstring is still tender to the touch and said he is 80-85 percent. His goal Wednesday was to test his hamstring by sprinting full speed, which he did without pain. His status for the opener remains uncertain.

"I'll take it day by day moving to Sunday," Johnson said. "It's not one of those tough-guy injuries. You have to be cautious about it and make sure you're back 100 percent because the biggest thing is you don't want to tweak it and set you back further.

"I trust the training staff and what they tell me to do. I feel good right now. If I had to say if I will play, I'm going to say I'm a go by Sunday, but it's up to the coaches."

Jones used to rotation

Felix Jones has been with the Steelers less than two weeks, but Tomlin indicated he will carry the ball some against the Titans. For Jones, a former first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys who came to the Steelers via a trade, making the most of every opportunity is important.

Jones knows what it is like to be part of a running-back rotation. He split time with DeMarco Murray for the past few seasons in Dallas.

"You just go out there and take advantage of the opportunity you get and make the most of it," said Jones, who is likely to be part of a three-man rotation along with starter Isaac Redman and third-down back LaRod Stephens-Howling.

"You just continue to make plays and have fun with it. You take your time and, when you get the opportunity, you make the best play possible."


Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rayfitt1.


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