Villanueva: 'I have a lot of coaching to get'

Alejandro Villanueva knows what it means to be there for others. He knows the value of teamwork. And he understands the only way to get better at anything in life, is to keep working at it. Those were values that were a necessity when he was an Army Ranger, as well as now as the Steelers starting left tackle.

And those are reasons why Villanueva has been a regular at the Steelers' OTAs, despite not having signed the one-year tender the team offered him back in March.

He could have made the decision not to come, to stay away from the voluntary workouts. But he didn't, and said the decision wasn't a tough one because he knows he has work to do.  

"Not in terms of my preparedness for the season because I have to get so much better," said Villanueva, speaking for the first time during OTAs. "I can't come out here and say I am ready and prepared. I have a lot of coaching to get. I have to be able to continue to improve as a player. It's not a matter of what I want to do, what my agent wants to do. It's a matter of what I need as a player and then all of the other decisions will sort themselves out."

Villanueva has been his own worst critic since he first joined the Steelers, but his growth and development, how he handles the position, is definitely noticeable. Teammates have praised him, coaches have praised him, and opponents have praised him. But he still hasn't found the comfort level at the position, nor does he think he or anyone ever will.

"I never feel comfortable playing left tackle," said Villanueva. "It's not a comfortable position. I don't think anybody's ever felt comfortable playing left tackle because you always get exposed, you are always going to give up plays, whether you are the best or the worst in the NFL. It's a matter of increasing your consistency so you don't look bad all of the time. I'm getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

The Steelers participate in day 10 of the 2017 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

"Every time I get in my stance it's a humbling moment because I know there are so many good players out there, so many things that can happen during a play and you have to execute at a very high level to get the results you want."

Villanueva is hoping he gets the results he wants with the long-term deal, but said he is keeping his focus strictly on football, and letting the negotiations play out between his agent and the front office.

"It's not my issue to solve," said Villanueva. "It's a negotiation that's between my agent and the front office. I play pool with Kevin (Colbert) after practice. It's something we don't talk about. I am here to get better. Whatever happens, happens. It's not something I can control. I am trying to be a Steeler. It's something my agent and the front office will have to sort out.

"Being part of the Steelers is unbelievable. It's awesome. It's a great building. I love everybody here. I have personal relationships. I don't have a part and say in all that goes on."

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