It took some time, it took some patience, but linebacker Buddy Johnson, one of the team's fourth round selections in the 2021 NFL Draft, finally got his opportunity.
After being inactive the first 11 games of the season, Johnson played against the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings in Week 13 and 14, getting the opportunity he had been preparing for since Day 1.
"Coach (Mike) Tomlin always says just prepare to play," said Johnson at the time. "You never wait on a moment. When that moment came, I know I've been preparing since I've been here."
Johnson got his opportunity with Robert Spillane dealing with a knee injury and being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List for those games.
"They give us a heads up from the beginning, just say always be prepared for that moment," said Johnson. "When my number was called, he'd been telling us from the jump just always be prepared."
For a young player, being inactive can be a challenge. It's something new for them as in college they were accustomed to getting all of the snaps and being 'the guy.' But Johnson handled it well.
"It's just something that's been instilled in me, just control what I can control," said Johnson. "I come to work every day, show up, get better. When my time comes, all I can do is control what I can control."
Johnson, who finished the season on the Reserve/Injured List, said the one player who has helped him the most during his rookie season was Spillane, taking him under his wing even though the two are competing for playing time.
"He's done a great job," said Johnson. "He knows that I'm his competitor and we're in this together. But honestly, I'm the guy that is behind him. He understands that, but he's done a great job of taking me under his wing and helping me even though I'm behind him chasing him."