A week or so into the 2014 edition of Steelers training camp out in Latrobe, Pa., the word was that linebacker Ryan Shazier, the team’s first round selection in the most recent NFL Draft, was being put through the paces in Dick LeBeau’s famously tough defense.
Thanks to some light shed on the subject by Steelers beat reporter Alan Robinson of the Tribune Review in an article published Sunday evening, the reason for Shazier’s training camp baptism by fire is that he’ll be getting a regular season baptism by fire by starting in his rookie year. And that information came straight from the horse’s mouth, Coach Dad:
“He’s going to start. Yeah, he’s going to start, LeBeau said. Whether that was the situation or not (Shazier being a first rounder), he was going to start in the NFL.”
- Shazier will be the second defensive rookie to start since LeBeau came back to coach the defense in 2004.
The first was Jarvis Jones who started on opening day in 2013, only to lose the job to Jason Worilds later in the season.
- You can look at Shazier starting one of two ways, I suppose.
On one hand, you can see Shazier’s quick ascension to the top of the depth chart at left inside linebacker as a testament to a polished young player who is of the same “pick and plug” variety that Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was when he started his first season after being Pittsburgh’s first round selection in 2010.
On the other hand, you can look at Shazier’s lofty depth chart status as an indication that the cupboard was pretty bare, what with long-time veteran Larry Foote released in March and second year man Vince Williams and Sean Spence with his injury uncertainty as some of the other options.
Regardless of how one looks at it, there is no doubt the Steelers will be counting on Shazier to pay immediate dividends in his rookie campaign.