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Shazier is raring to go

Posted Jul 25, 2014

The Steelers' No. 1 draft pick will get a chance to show he deserves to start as a rookie

LATROBE, Pa. – The No. 1 pick arrived at Saint Vincent College a day in advance of the reporting deadline for his first professional training camp. That was attributable to protocol much more than it was nerves or any sort of freshman apprehension about somehow showing up late.

“The rookies had to get in early so we could just settle down and wouldn’t be in all this chaos,” Ryan Shazier explained.

And yet there was Shazier outside of Rooney Hall this afternoon, surrounded by 10-deep microphones and cameras and fielding questions that were coming at him in rapid-fire succession.

That’s the way it is for those who arrive not only as first-round selections in the most recent NFL Draft, but also for players who line up with the first team on their side of the ball on the first play of the first offseason practice.

Shazier will be counted upon to do a great deal more than line up now that training camp has commenced. The inside linebacker from The Ohio State University wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I really like expectations and pressure,” Shazier explained. “I feel like it really makes me perform better. I feel like the more pressure on you, the more people expect out of you, I feel like I do better with that pressure on me.”

Shazier was often the center of attention during the offseason’s Organized Team Activities, whether it was because of the physicality he displayed against a veteran such as center Maurkice Pouncey, the leaping ability Shazier unleashed in intercepting backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, or merely because of Shazier’s ability to get from here-to-way-over-there much faster than most linebackers.

He’ll be that center of attention again in training camp based on his pedigree and the opportunity Shazier is getting to cement a starting position in his first NFL season. But Shazier maintained that hasn’t altered his approach.

“Regardless, I was going to put pressure on myself to go out there and show the coaches what I can do, show everybody what I can do,” he said. “If the coaches have trust in me for me to start, then I’m going to start. If they don’t, I’m not. I’m just going to continue to do what I can, go out there and grind and do what I have to do to help this team.”

That process started for Shazier and the rest of the Steelers with the camp-opening conditioning test.

Shazier approached that already looking forward to practicing on Monday with shoulder pads.

“I’m not really nervous,” he insisted. “I’m just ready to go. I’m real anxious, just ready to get out there and get going.

“We’ve been doing a lot of practicing without pads, and you really don’t know what people can do until they actually put the pads on. This game is played with pads on. I’m ready to get the pads on.”

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