In what you might call a step away from the norm for the Steelers coaching staff, Ryan Shazier started OTA’s lined up with the first team defense. While it’s only “football in shorts”, you have to applaud this move. It’s refreshing to see the team commit to a defensive rookie in this way, one who needs every rep he can get next to Lawrence Timmons, if he’s going to live up to his full potential this year.
Shazier lined up extensively at the Mack ILB position next to Timmons yesterday, but he knows the starting position won’t be handed to him. “You have to work for everything you have,” Shazier told reporters Tuesday. “I am just going to go out there, just like everyone else, go day-to-day and try to earn my job, and try to make sure I can do everything I can to help this team. I just have to keep showing the coaches that I know what I am doing to help this defense, and go out there and play.”
The former Ohio State linebacker said he’s trying to learn as much as he can from Timmons, who’s lining up at Buck during OTA’s.
“He’s one of the better linebackers in this game right now,” he said. “I’m trying to learn a few things from him. To learn from someone like that is amazing.”
Timmons said the rookie speedster can run down anyone. “4.4. What can you say? That’s enough said, right? The guy can run down anyone. [He’s an] amazing athlete. Once he puts it together he’s going to be a problem,” Timmons went on to say that he’s going to do all he can to help Shazier. “I’m going to try to help him out the best I can. Anything I see that he might need to know and it’s before the snap, I’ll give it to him. I want him to be a sponge, just react. If something’s too much, tell me and I’ve got his back.”
I fully expect Ryan Shazier to break the long running streak of Steelers rookies who don’t start on the Steelers defense during the season opener. The last Steelers defensive rookie to do so was Kendrell Bell, who started at the Mack LB position in 2001.