It's been a few months since Anthony Madison has been on the football field, but that doesn't concern him as he gets ready for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos.
"It's like riding a bike," said Madison. "It's the same thing. You never forget how to do it."
Madison was signed by the Steelers on Tuesday, returning to action for the first time since he was released by the Detroit Lions on Nov. 7. When the call from the Steelers came he was at home in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his cell phone off. By the time he turned it on he had a missed call from his agent and a text message from him.
"The text said are you ready to go back to Pittsburgh," said Madison. "I had pretty much written off the rest of this year. I had played some this year and I thought I would just be sitting back watching the playoffs and being a fan. Then lo and behold I got the call and they wanted me to come back. It's a great opportunity."
The Steelers brought Madison back into the fold because of injuries, particularly on special teams. Curtis Brown was placed on injured reserve several weeks ago and Cortez Allen suffered a shoulder injury against the Browns.
Madison, who originally joined the Steelers as a rookie free agent in 2006 and has been on and off the roster since then, has always been a standout on special teams.
"It's a great feeling," said Madison of coming back. "I am a proven commodity if you will. They know what they are getting when they bring me in. They know the type of guy I am. They know they are going to get my best effort every single play because that is all I know. When you have a guy who knows the system who can give you solid special teams play you tend to go back and give that guy a shot because you know what he can bring."
One of the advantages to having Madison not playing since early November is he is fresh. While many players are battered and bruised right now, Madison isn't.
"I might be sore after the first practice, but I am as game ready as anybody can be at this point," said Madison. "I feel like my advantage is my legs are fresh. When Sunday rolls around I know the coaches are going to do a good job of getting me ready to play and fire my bullets."
Coach Mike Tomlin praised Madison's special team's play during his weekly press conference, saying that he basically taught some of the current players how to play the gunner position. Madison has had an big influence on the unit over the past five years, and led the Steelers in special teams tackles in 2010 with 22.
"There is a standard that is set in Pittsburgh with the gunner play," said Madison. "It started way back with Sean Morey and Chidi Iwouma and then I came along. Now you have guys like Curtis Brown, Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis who embrace the role and know it's a significant part of the game. They know it's a big factor in winning and losing."
Madison was at the Steelers practice facility on Tuesday and got a warm welcome from teammates when he was in the training room and locker room.
"These guys are like family. I kept in touch with a lot of them," said Madison. "They are good solid people, from the players to the coaches to the staff. They are people you want in your corner. To see Greg Warren, (Casey) Hampton, all of the guys, it's always great to have a warm welcome.
"I am excited. I feel very blessed to be able to continue to do this. I have made a living covering kicks in the National Football League. Every opportunity I get I am going to embrace it and enjoy it because of all people I know how quickly it can be taken away. It's my job, but for me I feel like a kid."