Gay in a 'Troy' state of mind

There was an unusual sight on the practice field during OTAs on Wednesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, as No. 43 could be seen in the secondary.

And no, the Steelers didn't re-sign Troy Polamalu.

William Gay, the veteran cornerback, was sporting the jersey in tribute to Polamalu, who retired before the 2015 season.

And to make it even more unique, Polamalu was one who rarely, if ever, attended OTAs.

"I just came into practice today and was like, 'Where is the No. 43 jersey, I want to wear it today,'" said Gay. "He is a great friend, great brother, and a tremendous player. I just wanted to honor his number in OTAs. If anybody knows, Troy never came to OTAs during his time in Pittsburgh. I just wanted to put it on and act like he is out there.

"A lot of guys called me a rookie out there. Bruce (Gradkowski) said look out for No. 43, he is a rookie. The guys knew why I was wearing the jersey. We just got a conversation going about one of the greatest players to ever step foot on this field."

Gay said Polamalu was a mentor to him, helping him learn different nuances of the defense and always being there as a leader.

"He taught me the game," said Gay. "Taught me how to play above the neck. It's bigger than just learning the X's and O's and knowing your job on the field. I just want to be half the player he was."

Gay, who is going into his 10th season, said it's now his turn to be that leader, to help everyone in the secondary especially with the infusion of youth via the draft this year, including cornerback Artie Burns and safety Sean Davis.

"I just have to be more vocal," said Gay. "It's the same job. We have a lot of guys coming back from last year. Me being the in the 10th year now, I am the old guy. I have to be more vocal, I have to lead by example, and do what guys before me did, guys like Deshea (Townsend), Ike Taylor, Troy, Ryan Clark. Just do what those guys did when I was the young pup. Now I just have to be like those guys."

And the vocal part, well, if you know Gay you know that will be easy.

"I am ready to talk," said Gay. "I am ready to talk on and off the field."

Gay also shared a little more as OTAs are in full swing:


The Steelers participate in Day 2 of the 2016 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

On re-signing with the Steelers this offseason:**
"This organization gave me an opportunity to be in this league and another opportunity to continue my dream and quest to get another championship here. You always want to do that, and why not do it with a great organization like the Steelers. And to be around these guys, I already know these guys and didn't want to go anywhere."

On the Steelers drafting guys like Burns and Davis to help the secondary:
"It's going to help a lot. We need a whole bunch of talent, turnovers and great play. It's going to take a collective group, and not just one person. Any year you look at it, it's not one person, it's a unit. We are glad they are here, waiting on them to learn everything and ready to go for the preseason and game one."

On if Burns can help right away:
"We'll see. Right now as a group we are trying to prepare ourselves for this journey and get to Latrobe and see what happens there. Everybody in this organization with a helmet on is capable and that's what we believe."

On what improvements the secondary needs to make:
"More wins. If we get more wins the other stats fall in line. We want to do the best we can to help the team get the wins. The big stat is the win column. We always want to get turnovers, but I just want to score more points than the other team."

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