LATROBE, Pa. - Will Gay remembers what it was like to be a rookie, trying to learn as much as he could as fast as he could, his head spinning with the information, while at the same time trying to make an impression on his veteran teammates.
It's never an easy task, unless you get some help. And Gay got just that from Deshea Townsend, his former teammate who took him under his wing and tried to help.
"I was a little nervous. I was a rookie," said Gay. "I thought they weren't going to take me in as easy. My first year, Deshea grabbed me and said I am going to teach you everything I know. Now it's my turn to teach a guy like Shaq (Richardson) everything I know."
Gay is definitely paying it forward to Richardson, the cornerback taken in the fifth round this year. He is teaching him the tricks of the trade he knows, not afraid to pass on the knowledge as it will only make everyone better.
"It was done to me my rookie year so it's only right I do it back as a tribute to the guys that were here before me," said Gay. "You've got to. That is how the tradition carries on. We are not going to be here as veterans for a long time, so we have to make sure when we are sitting back watching TV that the Steelers still have that Steelers swag that we call it, that Steel Curtain defense, and that family atmosphere."
What Gay loves it that Richardson, as well as some of the other young players, is paying attention.
"They are great listeners, willing to do anything for the team," said Gay. "Rookies coming in not solely focused on themselves and their careers but what can I do to help the team."
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steeler's fourth day of Training Camp.
Gay hopes Richardson isn't just listening, but that one day he does the same, looking back to his rookie year and helping out another rookie some day.
"Hopefully he remembers my name too," laughed Gay.
Gay also talked about putting on the pads and hitting again:
On putting on the pads: "It's just real football. It's no longer running around in shorts and a helmet. You are putting on what you have to wear on Sunday. It puts the tempo up. It gives you a little more. Everyone is a little more intense, ready to release the pressure."
On if the defense talks more now: "That's all we can do. The offense can run around and look pretty, but as a defense we thrive on making tackles and big hits. Hopefully we come up with some to get us going."
On how much the energy level has increased: "You have everybody looking at you. You don't want to be the guy who got run over or missed a tackle, because in the meeting it doesn't look good. You just want to go out there and play real football."
On the speed on defense: "When we get in the preseason we will see how fast we really area. So far so good. You can't teach it. You have it or don't. I am glad we have it. Now it's time to just put it together."