LATROBE, Pa. – Rookie Demarcus Ayers remembers the first time he hit the field for a Steelers' practice during rookie minicamp back in May.
Like his fellow rookies, his head was spinning and information was flying at him fast and furious.
After a few months of learning the playbook, getting accustomed to the terminology, going over things during the team's OTAs and now the early part of training camp, things are a lot different.
"I am a lot more comfortable," said Ayers. "Coming in I didn't know what to do. You see drawings in meetings and you try to do it like it's drawn up on the paper. But when you get out on the field it's a whole different ball game. You have to understand what the defense is trying to do to you, and you have to listen to the quarterback. So much is being thrown at you. You don't know any of it. You barely know the plays.
"I am catching on. The guys are teaching me, letting me know when I am doing stuff right and wrong. That is helping me grow and take it all in, leaning how to take the criticism. I am learning something new every day, both on and off the field.
"I think I have grown a lot. Just from understanding how to be in the huddle, paying attention to detail and learning from the veteran guys. I am learning how to be a pro day in and day out from the guys. I am learning that the guys are here to help me even though it's competitive. I am ready to keep building on whatever is next for me."
Ayers said he has gotten a lot of advice from quarterback Landry Jones, who has pulled him aside and worked individually with him. Ayers has taken in every word he said, from showing up to training camp in the best condition he has ever been in, to doing extra work whenever he can.
"He has been on me telling me to stay prepared and be ready at all times," said Ayers. "He let me know you might be asked to make a play. The better conditioned you are, the more plays you make happen, and you want to be prepared."