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Ventrone just living his dream

It was a week ago today that Ross Ventrone found out he'd finally be playing in a game for the Steelers.

The second-year safety doesn't know what he might find out tomorrow or next week or next month, but that's a condition of employment the former undrafted rookie from Villanova is more than willing to live with while following his NFL dream.  

"I'm going to prepare every week like I'm playing, hopefully I'll stay up (on the 53-man roster)," Ventrone said. "It's not up to me, but I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team and I'll be ready every week. I'm confident in what I can do. I think they have confidence in me. Things work out the way they do."

They worked out for Ventrone last week about as well as he could have imagined.

He was added from the practice squad to the 53-man roster just in time for last Sunday's game against Cleveland after it was determined that reserve safety/punt-team gunner Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) would be unable to play.

Ventrone responded with two tackles in what was his ninth career NFL game and his first playing for the team he had idolized while growing up in Bridgeville, Pa.

"It was crazy," Ventrone said. "My first game with the Steelers is against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. It's a divisional game, a big game for us. I grew up here, so to put on the uniform was crazy in itself. And to make a play, yeah, I was pretty excited about everything."

Prior to Sunday Ventrone had been cut twice by the Steelers and 11 times by New England since he first signed on with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie in 2010 (he appeared in eight games for New England in 2011).

Now he's being tutored by one of his favorite players growing up, former Steelers safety and current defensive backs coach Carnell Lake.

Yet even without such a connection, Ventrone would maintain the conviction that keeps him coming back day after day and year after year in a football life in which nothing is guaranteed.

"I love football," he said. "Being a part of this organization now, it's easy, coming here every day and working hard for these coaches and this organization, the guys on the team. I love doing what I do, so I'm rewarded every day with playing football. There are a lot of people who want to be here who aren't. I'm fortunate enough to do it, so I'm going to do it as long as I can."

As it turns out that's something of a family tradition.

Ventrone's odder brother, Ray, has played safety for the Patriots, Browns and 49ers after entering the NFL as an undrafted rookie from Villanova. Ray played for San Francisco last Monday night at St. Louis and was released on Tuesday by the 49ers.

"He's had his ups and downs, too," Ross Ventrone said.

An added "up" for Ross last Sunday was having his mother and "a couple of aunts and uncles" watching him play for the Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. But like seemingly everything else, Ventrone maintained perspective on their presence.  

"It's not a long drive," he noted.

"Just week in and week out try to stay ready to play hoping that the time will come," Ross Ventrone said. "I went and prepared (last week) like I do every week and I got called up. I was excited to get in there and help my team. I wish I could have been out there in a winning aspect but I was happy to be up there playing with the guys."

OUT: NT Steve McLendon, CB Ike Taylor, SS Shamarko Thomas
PROBABLE: DE Brett Keisel, FS Mike Mitchell, DE Cam Heyward, FB Will Johnson, SS Tropy Polamalu

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