Johnson: 'I am a physical guy'

For some, especially those who have been in the NFL for four or more years, OTAs and minicamp are basically a refresher course, a chance to get familiar with the playbook before things heat up in training camp.

2016 minicamp is underway at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

For linebacker Steven Johnson, though, it's been his first chance to get on the field and run plays in the Steelers defense.

Johnson, who signed with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, took advantage of every minute of the recently completed OTAs to learn the defense and let the coaches see he is picking things up fast, espeically now that minicamp is underway.

"OTAs were big. It was the first eye test," said Johnson. "Your teammates see that you can make plays; your coaches see that you can make plays. Coaches want to see what you can do in a pressurized setting. 

"All in all we do this for one goal and that is to win the Super Bowl. Going out there for OTAs was one of the first steps in reaching that goal. When we first got out here for OTAs, we were a little bit rusty. That is part of the game. But when you go out there and keep pushing and pushing, things get easier and it comes together."

Being new to the team, this has also been the first opportunity for Johnson to prove to his teammates what he is capable of. Even though he is going into his fifth season, he is a new situation and knows he has to earn his teammates' trust and respect, just like he has earned everything else he has gotten. He walked on in college at Kansas, eventually earning a scholarship. He made the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012, playing three seasons there. And now he is ready to prove himself to his Steelers teammates.

"Wherever you go, if you are the new guy you are always going to have to prove yourself," said Johnson. "I don't care if you are 5, 10 years in the league or a rookie. You are always going to have to prove yourself. When I was in Denver I had to prove myself all of the time. I was around a lot of Pro Bowl players, great guys, but you had to prove yourself. Here, a new organization, guys don't know me. I have to go out there and prove myself so guys know they can trust me on game days."  

What he is hoping they see from him is a tough, aggressive, physical player who leaves it all on the field every play, every game, whether it's on defense or special teams.  

"I am a physical guy," said Johnson. "That is what I have been known as. I have always been a hitter. I have always been known as one of the hardest hitting guys on the team. I am a shy quiet guy, but when I get on the field I just like to hit people. That is just me. I have it in my blood. I am physical.

"I have also been one of the top special teams players in the league the last few years and you are going to get that out of me. On defense you are going to get a guy that is going to just fly around on the field and make plays. That is my plan this year. I want to become a starter and get out on the field and help this team win the Super Bowl. On special teams I am going to do the same thing. I am a 100 percent effort guy in everything. It's because of how I got here. I had to fight my way to the top and I am still fighting. At the end of my career I want to be able to look back and say I earned everything I got. I was able to go out there and work hard and bust my tail."  

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