Learning from the best: Tight end
Jesse Jamescouldn’t have picked a better situation with having a veteran show him the ropes than he got with Heath Miller as a mentor. That is going to pay dividends for James now that Miller has retired after 11 seasons with the Steelers, and James is one of the players likely to be called upon.
“Heath’s a pro’s pro, a pro at everything and just an all-around great guy,” said James. “He is one of the best guys I’ve met. One of the best guys in the locker room. It helps you a lot when you have someone like him to learn the way to handle yourself on the field, off the field, carry yourself in the locker room. He’s just a great guy to be around and learn from.”
Block this way: One aspect of his game James saw a lot of growth in this year was blocking, and much of that was thanks in part to tight ends coach James Daniel (JD) and Miller.
“I learned a lot about blocking,” said James. “JD helped me a ton with that and Heath did too. They all helped me work on it. Just watching those guys every day in practice and taking it onto the field on Sundays I felt adjusted well and grew a lot in that area.”
- Building for the future: James has already embarked on his first full NFL offseason, excited not to have the distractions of the NFL Combine, NFL Draft and the like. Instead he is able to just focus on getting better for the 2016 season.
“I just want to keep building for the future,” said James. “There’s always room to improve, including the mental side of the game. I want to try to stay on top of that. Being able to be in a system for a year and keep looking at film and learn more every time you watch it.
“I also want to focus on my body, trying to make it the best it can be for next season. Prepare it for that beating it’s going to take. I am going to do that by doing what I always do, but just get stronger.”
Home sweet home: The first thing James was asked about when he was drafted in the fifth round last year was being selected by his hometown Steelers. It was something he said he, ‘couldn’t be happier’ about. But playing for the hometown team can also mean tons of ticket requests.
“It really wasn’t bad,” said James. “The ticket requests were the surprising part. Most people knew I was trying to make a niche for myself on the team. People were really supportive.”