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'Camp-type vibes,' Avatars and the UGA learning curve

What we learned during the second week of OTAs …

FULL SPEED AHEAD: Veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson has 12 NFL seasons under his belt with Arizona and Minnesota, so he understands the process of team building and preparing for a season.

And he gets that it's very early in the process.

But Peterson's first two weeks of OTAs with the Steelers have nonetheless gotten his attention.

"Lotta energy, man," Peterson emphasized. "I love the way practices are going so far. I can't wait to see what training camp is gonna be like because when the pads come on we know the intensity level goes to another level.

"I'm telling you, man, the intensity level (at OTAs) is definitely camp-type vibes. I love it because Coach (Mike Tomlin) is definitely building that mindset for us. The guys are definitely enthused to be out here with one another, trying to get this thing down pat so when we do get to Latrobe we'll be ready to roll."

A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME: Georgia products have transitioned to the NFL in recent seasons believing they're as prepared as possible to take the next step based on the Bulldogs' back-to-back national championships and the caliber of competition in the SEC.

It's a theory that has some teeth.

But that said, third-round tight end Darnell Washington has already realized he's not in Athens, Ga. anymore.

"I mean, I played at Georgia so I thought I'd come here, I'd know mainly a lot of things already, but I still have tons of things to learn," Washington maintained.

"Little details of routes, how to sell it, just a little head movement or things like that. Just little things like that could lead to big things."

It's only been two weeks and six OTAs but Washington has already experienced what he considers to be his "Welcome to the NFL" moment.

"Yeah, for sure," he acknowledged. "I can't really remember exactly which day, but last week I'm out there, you know, a little press-man (coverage), things like that. I was just like, 'it's real.'

"These are grown men, guys who have been in the league for 10-plus years or X-amount of years. Lots of football in their background."

COULDN'T BE BETTER: Inside linebacker Cole Holcomb assessed his initial on-field experiences with the Steelers as "fan-frickin'-tastic."

A response such as that demands elaboration, and Holcomb was more than happy to elaborate.

"When I'm watching I like what I'm seeing," he continued. "I have a lot of teammates to get excited about. When I see the pieces that we have, it gets me excited about the future of this team."

The teammates that excite Holcomb the most are "all of them, man.

"I love the guys in the linebacker room. I think the world of 'Mink' (free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick). Obviously, that whole D-Line room, (outside linebacker) T.J. (Watt), (defensive tackle) Cam (Heyward), (outside linebacker) Alex (Highsmith), (defensive tackle) Larry (Ogunjobi), all those guys. That whole squad has got me excited.

"I'm ecstatic."

DINNER FOR TWO: The story has often been told of the get-to-know-you dinners Tomlin enjoys with prospects the night before or the night of a Pro Day and how those impact the evaluation process, not just prior to a draft but when the Steelers are considering bringing in free agents year later.

It turns out those are a two-way street in terms of making a lasting impression.

Just-added veteran outside linebacker Markus Golden recalled breaking bread in just such a fashion with Tomlin, and cited the relationship the experience fostered as one of the things that made the Steelers an attractive free-agent destination.

"I actually got to have dinner with him back at Mizzou when he came to visit at the Pro Day," Golden remembered. "We kept in contact a little bit. Every time we played each other I said 'what's up?' to him or something.

"I'm happy to be here with him."

Golden was a second-round pick by Arizona out of Missouri in 2015.

BEST NICKNAME SO FAR: Rookie cornerbacks Joey Porter Jr. (6-foot-2, 193 pounds) and Corey Trice Jr. (6-3, 206) have gotten Peterson's attention.

And, apparently, Tomlin's, as well.

"To have both of these young, as Coach likes to call them, 'Avatar' cornerbacks, it's gonna be special, man," Peterson insisted. "These guys, both of them, they want to learn. They want to get as much knowledge that they need to be successful."