OTAs are just a few days old for the Steelers, but cornerback Levi Wallace, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in March, is feeling right at home with his new teammates.
"This is the first time I have moved teams," said Wallace. "It's been good so far. The team has embraced me. The DB room is a great group of guys. Learning the scheme, new plays and stuff. Just getting into the groove. Feeling my way through the defense."
Wallace spent the first four years of his career with the Buffalo Bills, where he played in 52 career games, starting all of them. He has 219 tackles in four seasons, 171 of them solo stops. He also has recorded 30 passes defensed, six interceptions, seven tackles for a loss, two quarterback hits and a fumble recovery.
Now, he is learning a new defensive scheme, new terminology, new coaches and new teammates, with OTAs extremely valuable for him even though he is a veteran.
"This is the time you start training your eyes, what you are looking at in specific coverages," said Wallace. "For me it is big. With the Bills I was in the same defense for four years. I could run that with my eyes closed. It's challenging, but fun at the same time learning new plays.
"The biggest thing for me is learning new signals. Everyone runs the same defense, the same play calls. It's all about communication and verbiage. That's the biggest thing when you come into this defense. I'm picking it up pretty well, but there are always some tweaks you can learn from."
The learning process has been made considerably easier by the fact that the team and the defensive back group has embraced Wallace the way they have. He spoke glowingly about the attitude among the secondary, something that has given him a comfort level.
"I love how together everybody is," said Wallace. "The grittiness they play with. They are all trying to do the same thing. They are all trying to be on the same page. They all communicate, which I love. It's been good. A great group of guys.
"And there are no egos in the room, which I really appreciate. It makes the biggest difference when you have the goal that we are just here to win. We all support each other. Here everyone is on the same page, everybody wants everybody to be successful and go from there."
Wallace has fully embraced new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin's system, and also is relying on Austin's guidance as he steps into the system.
"It is a little bit different," said Wallace. "It's unique, but I love how he is as a play-caller thus far. I love the defense. It's just a little different. I think it's just different for me because I just came from a different system, so learning it and seeing the ins and outs, how I can be successful in the defense when I go out there with my opportunities.
"Then he is also a really great person to talk to, ask questions to, easy to communicate. I definitely appreciate it. Just asking questions. Just seeing how he sees it through his eyes. It gives me the best chance. He breaks it down. His door is always open for me and for the rest of the guys. It is easy to communicate with him and ask, what could I have done better here, and he gives a truthful answer."