The Steelers young players got a taste of what defensive assistant coach Joey Porter is going to bring to the table during the team's rookie minicamp, witnessing the same intensity he showed as a player in his coaching style.
"He's real intense," said first-round draft pick Ryan Shazier. "He is bringing the intensity. It's amazing to have such a great veteran like that, a guy who has such a tradition here in Pittsburgh and the NFL be one of our coaches. It means a lot. It's going to help us inexperienced players."
Shazier said that he has taken note of the strong tradition at linebacker, and hopes to follow in the footsteps of the great players before him.
"Pittsburgh is known for their linebackers, and what they have done," said Shazier. "I just want to add my name to that list and be one of the great Pittsburgh linebackers. I just want to continue to learn and do what I can in this playbook."
While Porter was working with the rookies along with the coaching staff at the beginning of minicamp, he had to leave early and for good reason.
Porter headed back to Colorado State University, where he recently earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts, for his graduation ceremony on Saturday night. Porter, who ended his college career at CSU in 1998 before being drafted by the Steelers, set his goal to graduate and did just that.
"It speaks volumes about Joey's commitment that he finished what he started and earned his degree," said CSU Head Coach Jim McElwain. "That was the goal when he came back last summer to work with our team and gain experience as a coach, to work toward completing his degree. He poured a lot into our team last season, and we're excited he has built on that experience now as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's even more rewarding to see Joey now as a graduate of Colorado State University."
View photos of the free agents from Rookie Mini Camp.
Daniel McCullers, the 6-7, 352 pound defensive lineman, definitely looks the part of someone who can stuff the run up the middle, playing at nose tackle his entire time at Tennessee, even though he has the flexibility to move to end.
"I can be a physical nose tackle that a defense needs," said McCullers. "I can control the center, help my linebackers make plays. I feel like I can do a good job."
McCullers said the biggest challenge for him starting off with the Steelers is not going to be the physical aspect of the game, but the mental part, learning the plays and adjusting.
"The physical part you did your whole career," said McCullers. "It's just mental now, learning the system. There are a lot of smart players. You have to learn all of the defense. It's a mental game.
"I am getting settled in to it. The process is going good overall. I am excited for it. Hopefully each day I get better and more acclimated to the system."
Among the players the Steelers gave tryouts to during the team's rookie minicamp were four players from Gateway High School in Monroeville, just outside of Pittsburgh. Cornerbacks Corey Brown and Dayonne Nunley and linebackers Delbert Tyler and Dorian Bell all played at Gateway and got a chance to show what they can do this weekend.