LATROBE, Pa. – A little bit of this, and a little bit of that as the Steelers prepare for their first preseason game of the 2016 season.
- Conditioning matters: Rookie second-round pick Sean Davis is getting plenty of work during training camp, taking snaps at strong safety and slot cornerback with Senquez Golson shelved after having surgery for a lisfranc injury.
And he is getting some praise from Coach Mike Tomlin for coming into training camp prepared and ready to go for whatever was asked of him.
"More than anything, he's highly conditioned," said Tomlin. "He's one of the few rookies I've seen that really looks like he's come prepared from a conditioning standpoint. That's not a knock against the others. It's really a tip of the cap to him.
"I think that's the first place that allows him to grow and take extra reps. He's playing some at strong safety, he's playing some in the nickelback position, and some in our sub-packages. I think more than anything, from an assessment standpoint, his high level of conditioning allows him to get extra work, which, of course, accelerates the learning curve."
Davis said in addition to what he did with the team during OTAs and minicamp, he went back to Arizona where he did his NFL Combine training, as well as working out at home with his younger brother leading up to training camp.
"I knew I had a goal, being in shape," said Davis. "That is one of the top things that has to be done to get on the field and get the reps. It's hard out here when you are sluggish. It affects your play. Being in shape allows me to be on the field longer."
The conditioning and studying his playbook are paying off.
"I have learned a lot, playing faster, getting more comfortable with the defense," said Davis. "I am more confident in my playmaking. I am communicating a lot more and I am more vocal especially when playing corner."
And when he hears good words from Tomlin, it drives him to work even harder.
"He is a great coach and for him to say that, to say something good like that, that is just going to keep me wanting more from myself," said Davis. "If I keep doing my job, hopefully I will do things so he can talk about me more in a positive light."
Helping hand: Offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva is battling for a starting spot, but he knows he wouldn't even be in the position to do so if it weren't for the help he gets from his teammates and Coach Mike Munchak.
"It's all up to them," said Villanueva. "Everybody is telling me if it wasn't for Coach (Mike) Munchak and my teammates, I wouldn't be in the NFL right now. There is a lot of truth to that.
"If Ramon (Foster) didn't take me under his wing, I wouldn't be here. If the guys didn't show me the ropes, there is no way I could have ever played last season. There is a lot of communication that goes on in the locker room. Having this group of guys has made me be able to play in the NFL."
Foster, who is entering his eight season in the NFL, understands the challenge an inexperienced Villanueva was faced with stepping in to play last season, and did everything he could to help him out.
"This game is more mental than physical," said Foster. "It's a day-to-day grind more than anything. The more you can stay consistent mentally, the better off you are. He is doing a better job now. I am happy with his progress. Here is a guy learning a position so everything he has done has been mental. That was the biggest thing with him, the mental game.
"He has done so much work, studying the game. He has done his part and I am happy to see it's paying off right now."