There probably isn't anyone happier to be taking part in the Steelers OTA's than running back Frank Summers. After missing almost all of the 2009 season with a back injury, Summers is thrilled to be on the field again, running, cutting, sweating and practicing.
"It feels great," said Summers. "It's a blessing and a great opportunity for me. I am excited to take the field with the team, go back and work again and interact with the team again. I was gone for the year. It's different being on IR. You are not contributing any more. You feel like you are just hanging around. I am very excited to be back."
Summers, the team's fifth-round draft pick in 2009 out of UNLV, played in just two games last season before eventually being placed on injured reserve. It certainly wasn't the way he envisioned his rookie season playing out.
"Mentally it was tough," admitted Summers. "Coach (Mike) Tomlin talked to me about you can't control injuries. It's something that comes with the game. There is no sense in beating yourself up anymore. I was just rolling with the punches. Those are the cards I was dealt last year and there was nothing I could do to change it. All I could do was prepare myself and get mentally and physically prepared for this year."
When the voluntary offseason workouts kicked off this year Summers was one of the first players on hand, arriving well in advance of the OTAs.
"It was very important to come in and get a jump start on the OTAs and training camp," said Summers. "We did a lot of blitz pickup, went through some run plays, things like that. It was valuable for me to be here and go through things mentally and now physically doing it on the field."
While he wasn't playing he did try to get into the playbook as much as possible, but like with most things learning it was one thing, getting the repetitions is another and with that lacking, it was tough.
"It was pretty tough to try and visualize it while not being out there," said the young running back. "I am more of a visual learner. Just looking at it on paper didn't help me. Now that I am out here physically doing it, it's helping me tremendously.
"It's 100 percent different from OTAs last year. Last year I didn't know what I was doing. If I was doing something right, I didn't even know it. This year I know what I am doing, what I am looking at. Now it's critiquing the little things. I am detailing every little thing. That is where I am mentally and physically I am feeling good, as good as I have felt in a long time."