The smile on Steven Nelson’s face was permanent from the time he walked into the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex until he stepped in front of the cameras gathered in the media workroom for his introductory press conference.
“I am fired up to play for Steelers Nation,” said Nelson. “You guys have some good football here. It’s a lot to look forward to.
“I have heard great things about this organization, and Coach (Mike) Tomlin and how the vibe is here. It’s like a family. I have heard great things already.”
Nelson said the last few days have been hectic, but fantastic.
“It’s been amazing. It’s been awesome,” said Nelson. “A lot of phone calls. A lot of happy people. A lot of emotions. It’s been all over the place, but I am happy to be here with you guys.”
Nelson, a free agent cornerback, signed a three-year deal with the Steelers on Thursday, giving the secondary a boost. Nelson played the first four years of his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, starting all 16 regular season games in 2018 and two postseason games.
He had his best season in 2018 with a career-high 68 tackles, 58 of them solo hits, and four interceptions, which he returned for a combined 58 yards. He also added 15 passes defensed. He said the increased numbers, in particular the interceptions, were a result of him moving from slot corner, which he played his first three seasons, to outside corner.
“My first three years I played corner and nickel,” said Nelson. “I started on the outside and in sub-packages I would play nickel. I just split. This past year I played primarily just outside cornerback. That is where my skillset is.
“Just being on the outside you are going to get more targets. The ball is going to be coming your way. You just have more opportunities. You are a playmaker and have a knack for the ball, you are going to be able to make more plays on the ball that way.
“My skillset. My toughness. My relentlessness. My work ethic. I think that is what attracted them.”
Nelson said he loves being targeted more on the outside because it presents the opportunities.
“I love that challenge,” said Nelson. “Always having a chip on my shoulder. That is always something I have had, having something to prove. That is something personal in me driving me to be better.”
He said he is hoping to help the defense, which only had eight interceptions last year, increase that number and get to the postseason.
“I know this year will be different,” said Nelson. “We are going to do some great things with our team. We are going to change that around this year.”
Nelson, who was selected by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the 98th pick overall, has played in 52 games, starting 38. He has 174 tackles, 150 of them solo stops, 35 passes defensed, four interceptions, eight tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
The Steelers have added free agent CB Steven Nelson