School is in for Steelers rookies

Jarvis Jones doesn't recall the specifics of last season's opener against Tennessee, but the 2013 No. 1 pick remembers vividly the buildup to his first game as an NFL rookie.

"I kept hearing these guys telling me, 'Man, preseason is over, things are about to be moving way faster. Guys are going to be trying to take your head off,'" Jones said. "And Day 1, that's what it was.

"Guys were more physical. Guys went from Point A to Point B faster. And guys knew where they were going. As a rookie playing in the preseason you really don't know what to expect."

The Class of 2014 is about to get a similar education.

First-round pick Ryan Shazier and No. 2 selection Stephon Tuitt, in particular, will begin finding out what the NFL is all about when the Steelers host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Heinz Field.

Shazier has been starting at inside linebacker when healthy since the first offseason practice. Tuitt, a defensive end by trade, spent the majority of the preseason playing defensive tackle in sub-package alignments.

The two were the most called upon of the Steelers' six rookies during the preseason. Both anticipate being significant participants when the Steelers host the Browns.

"I'm not going to say I'm not nervous," Shazier said. "I feel everybody gets nervous, but I'm more excited than anything. I've been treating the game like it is, it's a game. I've been playing and having fun, and that's what I'm going to try to continue to do. The more I have fun I feel the better I play."

Tuitt is embracing a similar approach.

"I go home every day and sit down and I just think, 'I can't believe it,'" Tuitt said. "I just saw Notre Dame play last week, and I'm supposed to be having my senior year there. To have an opportunity to play for the Steelers organization every Sunday, Monday, Thursday, whenever the game is, it's fun.

"There will be some nerves, but I'm going to have a lot of fun. It's an awesome experience to get a chance to have. Not many people have this opportunity. I get a chance to live out my dream."

It won't all be fun and games. With opportunity comes responsibility, and starting Sunday the ramifications of success and failure toward that end matter in the standings.

Tuitt intends to keep it simple initially.

"Doing whatever the coaches want me to do in the system right now," he said. "Going out every day practicing hard to try to get a chance to learn this defense and become a force with this defense. I'm still learning, but I know a majority of the playbook now. The next step is just playing with my teammates, understanding my teammates, understanding the scheme and being able to just be a football player."

Shazier considers himself a fit next to Lawrence Timmons.

"If I wasn't they wouldn't have drafted me," Shazier said. "I'm going to get better game in and game out. Right now I'm just going to keep working and wherever I'm at for Game 1, I know I'm ready.

"There are guys who have been in it for four, five, 10 years and they still make little mistakes. It's a complicated defense but there are a lot of guys around here helping me out and getting me ready for this game. The more I practice the better I'm going to get. I just have to keep watching film, keep practicing and keep working. I'm going to try to get better every day."

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