One of the toughest obstacles a tight end or receiver can have when he comes to a new team is making a connection with his quarterback.
For Nick Vannett, who the Steelers acquired on Wednesday via a trade with Seattle, that box is already checked.
Vannett and Mason Rudolph met this offseason when they worked out together in California, both having the same trainer. That connection will do nothing but help as Vannett is learning the Steelers’ offense.
“We trained in the offseason, right after the season,” said Vanilla nett. “I spent two to three months throwing with him, working out with him. I kind of already knew him a little bit. I remember when it was made public, the trade, he hit me up, he was excited. When the defense was out there (today in practice) and I was next to him, I was watching the field with him, trying to get a better feel. Having him help me, what I need to do, what I should do on the play. That is going to continue.”
Vannett, the Seahawks third round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, said he felt good after his first practice, taking plenty of reps with Vance McDonald a spectator on Thursday because of a shoulder injury.
“I feel like my head has been spinning so much,” said Vannett, who learned about the trade when he got a call from Seahawks general manager John Schneider, the only time he called him other than when he was drafted. “I came in in the afternoon (Wednesday), spent four hours trying to learn the terminology and plays. I feel like I did pretty good for Day. 1. The terminology is different so it’s like learning a new language. They threw me in there a lot, tested me, I feel like I did pretty good. I didn’t feel nervous out there. I think the more reps I get throughout the week, I think I will feel better when Monday comes.”
The good news for Vannett is he does have an extra day to learn with the Steelers playing the Bengals on Monday Night Football. But in the grand scheme of things that really isn’t a lot of time.
“All I am going to do is keep my eyes in the playbook, keep studying,” said Vannett. “I have to get up to speed by Monday. I don’t have a choice. They plan on playing me a good amount. I am not going to go in and have any doubt about what I am doing. I want to go in and feel comfortable. I can play fast, play confident and that is how you get results. I am going to do whatever it takes to feel comfortable by then. I am going to study the hell out of the playbook.”
And from the sounds of it he will get plenty of help from his teammates. He said McDonald and Zach Gentry, as well as the offensive linemen, have already made him feel comfortable and have been beyond helpful.
“I feel the love right away,” said Vannett. “I am so happy to be here. It’s been a crazy 24 hours. I didn’t know what to expect in here. Everyone welcomed me with open arms. Everyone has been so friendly. I love the vibe here. I am excited to be a Steeler.
“That is why I am so excited. It’s such a great opportunity for tight ends. Even the Heath Milller days, watching him thrive in this offense. Watching Vance thrive, Jesse James. They utilize their tight ends. That is something I am not used to where I have been, even in college. I can’t wait to show the player that I am in all aspects, run game, pass game, pass protection.”