Before the NFL season began, there was a strong belief that the 2020 season could be tough for rookies, with no in person offseason program or preseason.
Now imagine being an undrafted rookie free agent and having to beat the odds.
Not an easy task. Not easy at all.
Cornerback James Pierre, though, took on the task. And he won.
Pierre, a rookie free agent from Florida Atlantic, was signed by the Steelers following the 2020 NFL Draft. He showed a lot of potential during training camp, so much that when the initial 53-man roster was finalized on Sept. 5, he was on it.
"It was a big waiting game," said Pierre shortly after making the roster. "I had been through that already with the draft process. I was taking it one day at a time, working hard, finding out what I can do. I was just taking it one day at a time. I was just doing what the coaches asked, whatever the coaches wanted, that is what I was ready to do."
And from the get-go, he took the advice of Coach Mike Tomlin.
"I really have to get ready for a game, watch the older guys," said Pierre. "Like Coach Tomlin says, lean in and watch what the older guys do. I just have to keep taking notes from them."
Two older players who helped him tremendously were fellow corners Joe Haden and Steven Nelson.
"When I first came here, they were teaching me the game plan, the playbook," said Pierre. "They taught me a lot. Steve was telling me work hard. That is what it was. Control what I can control."
Pierre played in all 16 games, finishing with 10 tackles, including seven solo stops. He also had two tackles in the AFC Wild Card game against the Cleveland Browns. He was solid on special teams, knowing like all rookies that is the way to stay on a roster after you make it.
During his time at Florida Atlantic, Pierre played in 39 games with 120 tackles, including 80 solo stops, eight and a half tackles for a loss and three interceptions.
Take a look at photographs of Steelers DB James Pierre from the 2020 season