Linebacker Ryan Shazier got some insight into the Steelers defense while at Ohio State thanks to defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s consultations with the coaches at the alma mater he shares with this year’s first-round pick.
That familiarity seems to have allowed Shazier to skip over some preliminaries this spring. The Steelers aren’t paying much lip service to making Shazier earn his spot and are instead deploying him all over the field. Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Wednesday’s practice saw Shazier covering Antonio Brown, making plays at the line of scrimmage and generally looking like “a younger version of Troy Polamalu.”
“A lot of stuff we learned at Ohio State is from this defense,” Shazier said. “The coaches came over here every now and then and learned some stuff. Some of it has different terminology, and (is) more complex, but it has a little bit of what we knew.”
It’s been unusual for a rookie to make his way right into the starting lineup in Pittsburgh, but the need for athleticism on the unit is too great for them to make Shazier bide his time. Comparisons to Polamalu are awfully premature in June of his rookie year, but the speedy Shazier is in position to make himself a cornerstone for the next Steelers defense after less than a month with the team and take the torch from Polamalu if he makes good on the opportunity.