Pit bull: If there is one thing rookie Demarcus Ayers learned right away about being a Steelers' receiver, it's that blocking is as important as catching a pass.
Ayers, who is listed at 5-11, 190, but said he is 5-10, has no problem throwing blocks for the offense, and was even referred to by offensive coordinator Todd Haley as, 'a little pit bull,' when it comes to blocking.
"It gets me going," said Ayers. "Either get hit or hit someone. My first play in the league, my mindset was go get somebody. After that I got going. The physicality of the football game is one of the things I have always enjoyed. I learned a lot from it. I got my toughness from it. I enjoy going out and putting it all on the line for my teammates, creating holes, creating lanes. I look at myself as a pit bull. I am 5-10. A lot of people don't think my frame can do it. My mindset is going in there and attacking anybody that stands in my way."
Ayers said he watched former Steelers' receiver Hines Ward play and seeing him be a premier blocker inspired him.
"I watched Hines a lot growing up, all the plays he made here," said Ayers. "Similar guy, more weight than I had, but fiery, willing to get the job done at all costs. Guys like that changed the game for smaller receivers and showed guys around the league, and guys that are 5-9, 5-11, can dig down and show some toughness and heart."
Who needs sleep?: Ryan Shazier's game keep getting better week after week, and that is due in part to him trying to emulate the work ethic he sees from Steelers' veterans like William Gay and Mike Mitchell.
Shazier is an early riser, working out before the crack of dawn, around 4:45-5 a.m., before he even arrives at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
"I usually do it four to five days a week, working on different things," said Shazier, who said he 'does his best,' to get to sleep by 9-10 p.m. each night to be ready for those early mornings.
When he does arrive at the facility, he goes straight to watch film with the team's scouts before meetings begin, trying to gain every advantage he can.
"It's important," said Shazier. "It helps step up my game, gets me better prepared for what is going to happen in the games. I can't thank them enough for allowing me to be in there. It's helped my game.
"It started with me doing it between meetings. I would go in there with Mike Mitchell. Then I started going in earlier, by myself. I wanted to get in there as early as possible and watch as much film as I can."