Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler didn\'t mince any words during the 2013 NFL Draft when he was asked if this upcoming offseason is a make-or-break one for fourth-year linebacker Stevenson Sylvester.
"No doubt for him," said Butler. "He knows that. That is something I talked to him about at the end of the season I talked to all of them about this at the end of the season It doesn’t matter the reason that you are not on the field. If you are hurt like LaMarr Woodley, he was hurt. It doesn’t matter the reason that he wasn’t on the field, he just wasn’t on the field.
"We have to remedy where that reason is and the same thing with Sly. Sly was injured. We had little nagging injuries here and there. We had a few of those last year We have to eliminate those and keep ourselves in position where we are available and can play during the year and not be sitting on the sideline watching the game with me because they have an injury. So we have to do things to try and correct that if we can."
So what is Sylvester doing this offseason to help ensure that he is on the field this year during training camp and the preseason in order to compete for a spot on the 53 man roster? He\'s working out in Arizona with a few of his teammates and a few other players, according to an interview he did this week with Bo Marchionte on the College2Pro.com Players Platform Show.
"I\'m out here with Ryan Clark, LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison and a lot of guys from other teams, and we got out here as soon as OTA\'s ended," said Sylvester. "As soon as OTA\'s ended we got on the grind, and we know how important this season is for us."
Sylvester, who has played all of 75 snaps on defense since being drafted in the fifth-round of the 2010 NFL Draft, missed the first three games of the 2012 season after he injured his knee late in training camp last summer and then missed three more games in the middle of the season due to a hamstring injury. That missed time was crucial and there is no way that he will ever it back.
The Utah product has, however, been able to stay on the field during the Steelers offseason practices, so that certainly is encouraging as he faces stiff competition for a spot on the 53 man roster from rookie Vince Williams and second-year player Marshall McFadden.
While Sylvester wasn\'t asked any questions pertaining to his fight for a roster spot this year, he was asked about the leadership on the team and without hesitation, he named four players who have taken very active roles during the offseason.
"I would say Ryan Clark is one of our biggest and Brett Keisel is right there as well," said Sylvester. "I like the way Maurkice (Pouncey) handles his business on the offensive line and gets the offense straight and of course Big Ben (Ben Roethlisberger), he\'s eager for another championship, and that\'s what I like the most."
As far as looking ahead to the 2013 season, Sylvester maintained that the team goal is no different from any other year.
"We are always going to be up there with the best teams in the league and any time another team sees the Steelers on their schedule. they\'re worried, as they should be, because we try to bring it every Sunday," said Sylvester. "That\'s the aura that we try to present to other teams and make everybody notice that we\'re about business, and we want that championship each and every year. Six championships is hard enough, and we\'re going for seven."
We will be talking more about Sylvester in an upcoming training camp battle post, but in the meantime you can listen to his interview with Marchionte in its entirety below.