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On Day 1, No. 1 lines up with the 1s

Posted May 27, 2014

Rookie Ryan Shazier worked with the first-team defense at the team's first OTA

Ryan Shazier admittedly has a lot to learn in his transition from first-round draft pick to becoming a starting inside linebacker for the Steelers.

That much was obvious during and after the Steelers’ first Organized Team Activity of the spring.

“He slammed me down; I told him to chill with that, now,” center Maurkice Pouncey reported. “I don’t want to break Rule No. 10; y’all can ask Coach (Mike) Tomlin about that one.”

Pouncey then revealed Rule No. 10: No Fighting.

“The older guys, they like to play rough,” Shazier explained. “I’m just going to have to get used to how they do things.”

It was all a part of Shazier’s first experience on a practice field with NFL veterans, a day that began for him as a first-team inside linebacker next to Lawrence Timmons.

“Looking at the guy’s tape I’m not surprised,” Timmons said. “The guy’s resume is something impressive. I’m just happy to work out here with him. He played the ‘Mack,’ I played the ‘Buck.’ We’re both learning now because it’s my first time playing the ‘Buck.’ Everybody’s out here trying to be a player of the game right now.”

Timmons didn’t start as a rookie No. 1 pick in 2007, but he played significant snaps at linebacker and on special teams, so he’s well aware of how best to meet the challenge confronting Shazier as a first-year player.

“Just look at the film, listen to what (linebackers) coach (Keith) Butler says, just be a sponge right now and try to get better in every phase,” Timmons advised. “A 4.4 (in the 40-yard dash), what can you say? That’s enough said, right?”

Almost.

“He can run,” Pouncey added.

Timmons started all 16 games last season as the ‘Mack’ linebacker, but the Steelers went through Larry Foote (one start), Kion Wilson (two starts), Vince Williams (11 starts) and Terence Garvin (one start) at ‘Buck’ linebacker.

Their response was to draft Shazier with the 15th-overall pick. And while nothing is etched in stone just yet, the deployment of Shazier in OTA No. 1 spoke volumes about the Steelers’ investment and Shazier’s potential.

“It was good going out there learning with the older guys, trying to get my feet wet,” Shazier said. “I feel like I did a pretty good job. I have to do a little better communicating, calling out some of the stuff and just talking in general. I did a pretty good job today. I just have to learn and do better. I just got to keep showing the coaches I know what I’m doing and I know this defense and I can go out there and play.”

Added Timmons, “The guy can run down anyone, an amazing athlete. Once he puts it together he’s going to be a problem. He’s our type of guy.”

Even if Shazier has yet to fully grasp the consequences of his actions as they relate to a teammate contemplating the breaking of Rule No. 10.

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