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Cockrell's a happy camper

LATROBE, Pa. - Stephon Tuitt never made it to Saint Vincent College a season ago, so he's soaking up the experience this summer.

"This is my first training camp so I'm taking it all in," Cockrell said. "I'm loving it. Saint Vincent is a beautiful campus, the fans are intense, this is a great place to be."

Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 4th training camp practice.

Cockrell initially signed with the Steelers last Sept. 5, after having been released by Buffalo on Aug. 31. He had appeared in seven games for the Bills  in 2014 as a rookie fourth-round draft pick out of Duke.

Cockrell started seven games and appeared in 15 last season, as well as both of the Steelers' playoff games, all without the benefit of OTAs, minicamp and training camp.

"This is nice because I actually get a chance to get to know my teammates, they get to know me and we get to just talk football and talk life and it's not the grind of the season, game-planning every week, focusing on the next opponent," he said.

"This has been nice just getting to know people like that."

Cockrell opened camp as a starting cornerback opposite veteran William Gay, a designation Cockrell maintains is less significant than what he'll be able to accomplish when he's playing a defensive snap in any capacity.

"I'm just working to be a play-maker," he said. "Whatever role they want to put me in, I'll be there. I just want to get my hands on the ball and create as many turnovers as possible. Coming from my situation and how I got here it's pretty easy to keep things simple and that's what I try to do.

"Just how vertical the game has become, there are some blurring of the lines between safeties and corners and guys are called upon to do different things. Corners sometimes have to fill in the gaps that safeties usually fill and safeties have to cover guys that corners usually have to cover."

The Steelers are sorting through all of that in the secondary, and when they get it wrong in practice there are plenty of cheers from the hillsides.
But Cockrell doesn't mind; he appreciates the passion.

"Just when we were coming out to practice (on the first day), everybody was all lined up, screaming and yelling, it kind of felt like going out to a high school game," Cockrell said. "It was a lot of fun.

"It's exciting, it's good to know that we're loved and respected as a team and as players."

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