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Smith-Schuster adapting; Watt is focused

Posted May 25, 2017

A look at Steelers' OTAs, including the latest from JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.J. Watt.

Making the adjustment: The Steelers first week of OTAs have wrapped, and for rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster it’s been a week of learning and adapting to a whole new pace compared to what was being worked on during the team’s rookie minicamp.

“It’s a lot different,” said Smith-Schuster. “The tempo is faster. Everyone is faster and smarter on the field. I am learning a lot. Just with these past few days, I am learning so much information that will help me along the way. Coach (Richard) Mann is a great coach. Everything he has been teaching me has been working.”

Staying focused: Number one draft pick T.J. Watt already has a good handle on what it’s going to take for him to be successful in the NFL, and it’s not much of a deviation of what he did all through college. It’s all about hard work, but keeping a balance as well.

“You don’t want to get overloaded with information yet,” said Watt, who is about as focused a rookie as you will ever see. “You want to absorb as much as you can, but not get overwhelmed.

“You have to be smart about your studies. You have to take study breaks, it’s just like school. I will go back to the hotel, study my plays, take a break, and do it again. This is my job now. So it’s my job to get that playbook down. There’s no excuse not having it down.”  

Settled in: As he is preparing for his third season in the NFL, Jesse James can see a difference in himself. He has matured, adjusted to being the team’s go-to tight end after the retirement of Heath Miller and now the release of Ladarius Green, and is using his experience to help him.

James played in only eight games his rookie season, starting two, and had eight receptions. But last season, without Miller and Green sidelined most of the season with injuries, James played in 16 games, starting 13, and finishing with 39 receptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

“It’s great,” said James. I have a year under my belt playing full time. From this time last year, I am way further ahead. I feel really good about where I am.

“Last year I played the season, was 22 years old and made a lot of mistakes that I learned form. I knew going into the offseason they wanted me to improve to help the team. I think I did a good job with that. I need to keep improving through this camp and when we get to Latrobe.”

A whirlwind: It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for rookie Matt Galambos. After not being drafted, or signed as an undrafted rookie free agent, the former University of Pittsburgh linebacker was invited for a tryout with the Kansas City Chiefs during minicamp. And then he got an invitation from the Steelers to tryout during their minicamp, and made a strong enough impression to be signed by the team.

Galambos, who came to Pittsburgh with only enough clothes for a weekend, headed back to the Philadelphia area right after minicamp, and within 24 hours was back in Pittsburgh and getting to work.

“I knew if I went out and gave all that I had, learned the plays, the installs to the best of my ability, I would be okay with it,” said Galambos. “Right after the final practice of minicamp (General Manager) Kevin Colbert came up and talked to me about staying here. It was an honor. Being a tryout guy you standout, you have to work harder. It’s good that the work you put in stood out, the coaches saw it and they wanted me to stay on with the team.”

Galambos understands, though, that the hard work is just beginning.

“You know nothing is guaranteed,” said Galambos. “Getting signed is the first step. You are in the camp. Now you have to keep going. People think you are all set. But there is a long way to go. There is so much work to put in. But it’s awesome. Nobody in my family has ever experienced anything like this.”