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Ridley: 'For me it's special'

LATROBE, Pa. - Patriots. Jets. Lions. Colts. Falcons. Broncos. Vikings.

Sounds like that makings of an NFL schedule. But it's not.

Those are the teams that Stevan Ridley was on before signing with the Steelers late last year.

Not exactly the tour any NFL player would want. But it's one Ridley hopes will make a long stop in Pittsburgh.

"You bounce around," said Ridley. "I take what the Lord gives me. It wasn't the journey I wanted, but I have grown and learned so much. I cherish things so much more. Having a job. Waking up each morning in a dorm room in Latrobe. Those are things some people dread, but I value because I was in a much different place last year. For me it's special. It really is. I am trying to make the most of it."

Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers 5th day of training camp.

Where Ridley was last year could best be described as football upheaval. He didn't play for the first 15 weeks of the season, unsigned by any team after he was released by the Broncos and then Vikings early on. That all changed when the Steelers signed him in late December to a one-year contract, and he had new life.

The team re-signed him this offseason, something that was beneficial for him in multiple ways. When he arrived last year it was late in the season and heading into the playoffs. It didn't allow a lot of time to get to know his teammates. This offseason allowed the time to bond, to get to know the guys in the locker room.

"It's been really valuable," said Ridley. "The stuff people don't see is in the locker room, getting the bond with guys you normally wouldn't. You see people's personalities, develop friendships. That is what I am taking from camp. Football will be football. I am learning how to run the offense fluidly. But getting to know guys is a huge part. You play harder when you are playing with guys you know and relate to."

It also gave him a chance to get more comfortable in the offense, being with the team during OTAs, minicamp and now training camp. Last year it was learning on the fly for the six-year veteran, who finished the season with 26 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown. This year he is benefiting from time and reps.

"Last year I was just at the house most of the season," said Ridley. "This year I was signed early in the offseason, had some peace, knew I would be in shape, I had OTAs and everything. I knew I had a workload cut out for me. I just have to keep getting out there and make my reps count."

Making those reps count is a key with Le'Veon Bell not in training camp. The running back position right now consists of little experience, with James Conner back after suffering a knee injury late last season, along with Fitzgerald Toussaint, James Summers, and rookies Jaylen Samuels and Jarvion Franklin.

"Every rep I can get, it counts," said Ridley. "I know that. Coach (Mike) Tomlin has stressed that. There are 90 guys on the roster right now. Every time you get the ball in your hands you have to go out there and be productive. I am focusing on when my number is called being productive. That is my main focus right now, being the best Stevan Ridley I can be. That's off the field, that's on the field. Really just trying to grow and getting better. I want to be a player that plays double digit years, I want to play in this league a long time. For me that is capitalizing on every opportunity that comes my way.

"To be here now, I have a preseason, and hopefully a season to show what I can do. I have plenty of life left, plenty of tread on the tires. I know I can be beneficial to a squad, and I hope that is here. They gave me a chance not just once, but twice when they called me back. I want to return the favor and come in here and be as productive as possible."

How the running back position will play out, nobody knows yet. But there is one thing Ridley knows, he wants to be a part of Steelers 53-man roster, on a team that he sees as different than any of the previous seven he has been a part of.

"It starts from the top down," said Ridley. "It starts with the leader up top, Coach (Mike) Tomlin, and the assistant coaches on down. This unit has been here a long time and developed a process of what they believe in. Your players automatically buy into what their coach says and what they are taught. We are a laidback group, we have fun, but we come to work, and we work hard. This is an organization built on hard work and humble people. I like that."

Steelers Training Camp Schedule:

Wed., August 1 - 2:55 p.m. (Open To Public)
Thurs., August 2 - 2:55 p.m. (Open To Public)
Fri., August 3 – 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Steelers Fest at Latrobe (Open To Public)
Fri., August 3 – 7 p.m. @ Latrobe Memorial Stadium (Open to Public)
Sat., August 4 - 2:55 p.m. (Open To Public)
Sun., August 5 - 2:55 p.m. (Open To Public)
Tues., August 7 - 2:55 p.m. (Open To Public)
Sat., August 11 - 2:55 p.m. (Open To Public)
Sun., August 12 - 2:55 p.m. (Open To Public)
Mon., August 13 - 2:55 p.m. (Open To Public)
Tues., August 14 - 2:55 p.m. (Open To Public)