The Steelers’ Rookie of the Year will be announced on Tuesday, and this is one year when many of the team’s rookies, particularly the draft picks, have seen extensive playing time and made big contributions.
Since being selected by the Steelers in the NFL Draft in April, the rookies have emerged and below shared the way they have grown since draft day.
RB Le’Veon Bell: “I have grown mentally, just pre-snap, things I didn’t know when I first came they come a lot easier to me now. The game has really slowed down. I really understand a lot more football being in this league, this organization.”
LB Terence Garvin: “I have grown a lot. When I first got here I was a safety and I was adjusting to a new position. For me it’s been learning the new position, all of the ins and outs, what to do and how to go about my business. I feel like I have grown a lot, going about my business, being accountable.”
LB Jarvis Jones: “I think mentally it’s been a challenge for us all, but I think the mental part is what people don’t see outside of the system. They don’t see the mental stage rookies have to go through. We have played almost a whole year of football without taking a break, straight from your last year of college playing, to training, to the combine, draft, OTAs, camp and then you play a 20 game season and possibly more. It’s tough, but you have to keep grinding. The mental stage is the big part.”
QB Landry Jones: “Understanding the offense a lot more now and gaining an understanding of NFL defenses.”
S Shamarko Thomas: “From a comfort zone, learning from Troy (Polamalu) and Ryan (Clark) at the beginning was tough. Getting adjusted to the practice schedule was tough, the meetings, the way everything went. But I am used to it now. Learning the defense and everything is coming together.”
WR Markus Wheaton: “It’s been growing mentally more than anything, getting the opportunity to learn from the older guys, how they prepare and the little things they do in their game, learning from them. That has been most of my growth.”
LB Vince Williams: “I play a lot faster now than when I first got here. You can tell there is a stark difference between the first time we played against Cincinnati and the second time we played against Cincinnati. I played a lot sharper, a lot better.”
The rookies also weighed in on what they have learned about life in the NFL so far in their first season.
Bell: “Adversity is always going to strike. It struck for me with the injuries, with the team losing the first four games. It’s going to strike and you just have to know how to handle it.”
Garvin: “Every day out here you are trying to learn something. I have learned something new every day so it’s not just one thing.”
J. Jones: “You have to work for everything that happens here. Nothing is given to you. You know that. You are going to go against the best of the best every week. You have to prepare for that and work. It’s not just the physical part of it; it’s the mental part of the game, taking care of your body so you can stay ahead of the curve. It’s a long season and your body starts to deteriorate. That is the main part of it, being mentally focused both on and off the field.”
L. Jones: “The biggest lesson is being patient and working as hard as you can and being prepared for when you get your chance. It’s tough.”
Thomas: “You have to be a student of the game. Troy and Ryan always tell me even if you think you know it, study it more. Always be a student of the game and stay healthy.”
Wheaton: “There is so much, there are financial things, tips from the coaches and players, learning from watching game film. I have learned that you learn something new here every day.”
Williams: “It’s a long year, but it happens so fast."