Blake: 'I want to be a wrecking ball'


There are days when Antwon Blake walks off the practice field after OTAs, the gold visor on his helmet shielding him from having to stop and talk about himself to the gathered media as he quietly runs towards the locker room.

But on this particular day, Blake was stopped time and again, getting all kinds of attention because of the way he has been working during OTAs and making it hard for him to stay quiet.

"Each day I feel a little bit better, getting comfortable in the scheme, the small details," said Blake of his progress. "Those are getting down pat. I come out here and feel better every day coming out here with the guys."

Blake, who was claimed off of waivers from Jacksonville at the start of the 2013 season, quickly became a force on special teams for the Steelers last year, finishing second on the unit with 11 tackles. It's a role he loves, one he embraces and one he takes great pride in.  

"To play special teams you have to have a high motor and a great work ethic," said Blake. "Every special teams play is normally just one play. You have to go your hardest one play at a time. The people that do that successfully are the ones that make an instant impact.

"My mindset is when I go down there I want to be a wrecking ball. I feel like nobody can stop me. If somebody gets in my way, I have to move them. I have to bowl through them."

And when he does, it's a good feeling. But he doesn't rest on his laurels.

"When I make a tackle on special teams I instantly think to myself when I have the opportunity again, I want to do it," said Blake. "I like that feeling. I want to have that feeling constantly."

There is another feeling he wants too…making those same type of hits on defense. The cornerback was limited in his defensive snaps last season, but is hoping to change that around this year.

"I want to continue to raise the level of play I have on special teams and maintain my niche at that," said Blake. "At corner I want to emerge as someone who is in the lineup consistently and ultimately become a starter and show the world what I can do. I want to help my team any way I can.

"If I come out here and make plays consistently I feel like I will be all right."

Blake has caught the attention of defensive backs coach Carnell Lake, who talked about the cornerback the weekend of the NFL Draft.

"Antwon Blake is one very fast, quick aggressive corner that I liked coming out last year," said Lake. "We were fortunate to grab him, and he's turned out to be very productive for us, especially on special teams."

Hearing praise from Lake, someone he admired not so much during his Steelers playing days, but when he was with Blake's hometown Jacksonville Jaguars, means a lot.

"Carnell Lake is someone I was a fan of growing up. In my eyes he is a sure Hall of Famer," said Blake, who was converted to safety in Jacksonville but is more comfortable back at cornerback. "It's kind of a dream come true to be coached by someone like him. It's easy to listen to him. It's easy to understand what he is saying and believe what is coming out of his mouth because I saw him do the things he is asking of us. It's a great feeling to know you are being coached by somebody with that pedigree and background."

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