The last two years have been nothing like Senquez Golson dreamt they would be. Not even remotely close.
The former second-round draft pick who was filled with promise, someone who could make an impact on the secondary, has been nothing but a spectator, sidelined his rookie season with a shoulder injury, and last year with a foot injury.
And it's been painful for him. Very painful. And I'm not talking about physical pain.
"It was rough," said Golson. "I always played sports year round, baseball and football. I never missed a season, never had surgery or anything like that. It was unfamiliar for me.
"Standing around watching practice, watching games was even worse. Standing around and watching and knowing I can contribute. That is the worse feeling. It got kind of bad for me."
There were some days that were worse than others. Days when he doubted his future, truly had no idea if he would ever play again. Days where he thought the dream could be over.
"There is no energy to get to work. You are feeling real down," admitted Golson. "It gets bad because this is what I love to do. Do I want to play anymore? Will I play anymore? You get all of those questions coming through on a daily basis. It was hard to get up out of bed, but once you get around the guys, you get to laugh at things. The thoughts and stuff go away. It's the after work, when I get home and you think, 'Dang, I really am not out there.' It was important to be around the guys and coaches to keep me up.
"Once I made my mind up that I can still be doing things to get better, it started getting a little better for me, day-by-day. You only get confident through work. It's just coming in working every day, knowing I am getting stronger, faster, knowing my body is starting to feel better. It was just working. It was rough. But I took it day-by-day. It got bad, but I am glad it's turning the way it's turning so far."
How it is turning out is like this. Golson is back on the field, working with his teammates during OTAs at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex and feeling better than ever.
The Steelers participate in day 5 of the 2017 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
"It feels really good," said Golson. "It's been a different journey for me to get out here, but I am just blessed to still be here. I am feeling really good. I am feeling the best I have felt in a while as far as strength wise, in shape wise, how my body feels. It's the best I have felt."
His work had been limited on the field the past two seasons, but he has had the advantage of two years plus of learning the playbook. While he might be a 'rookie' still on the field, in the classroom he definitely has experience.
"My mental toughness has gotten better," said Golson. "Things are different in the NFL, so just learning the offenses and things like that. I have had a few years with the playbook before I have had to play, so I have some things in my favor."
Golson still has a ways to go and he knows that. He hasn't done anything on the field to show his teammates or coaches he is the same player they drafted a little over two years ago. But he will keep on working until he does prove it.
"Every day I come out here to get better," said Golson. "Even if I played and started for two years, every day I would come out here and prove myself. Teammates, coaches, fans, everybody…Steelers Nation took a chance on me and I am just trying to get back out here and show what I can do."
Golson might be the only player taking part in Steelers OTAs who actually wishes there was contact this time of year, but it's something he is going to have to wait for.
"Every day I am working and taking it day-by-day," said Golson. "I am ready to go. I am ready to get in those pads, start to get some contact, some bruises. I am just ready to go. It's been too long for me. I am ready to make some tackles.
"I am just ready to go."