The Pittsburgh Steelers got a gift following the 2012 NFL Draft when they were able to land Robert Golden as an undrafted free agent. With one season now under his belt, they will expect him to take another step forward in 2013 as they start to prepare for the unavoidable changing of the guard at both safety positions that could take place as early as 2014.
Golden only played 46 snaps on defense during his rookie season, but he told David Todd of ESPN 970 Radio Thursday how much that little bit of playing time helped him.
"Any experience is great experience, especially for a first-year player," said Golden. "The more experience the better, just being out there, getting in the game with the speed it definitely helped me out for this year, because it took me into my offseason knowing what I had to work on and knowing what I had to get better on as far as the game goes. So it definitely helped me out just with the experience that I had."
Golden was already a versatile defensive back when he arrived in Pittsburgh as he played both cornerback and safety while at Arizona. However, being as he was so versatile, he was surprised that he wasn\'t drafted.
"I was definitely surprised," said Golden, who went back to Arizona this past offseason to train. "Especially just going through the whole process. I played cornerback a lot in my college career and then played a little safety, and because of my versatility, I thought it was going to help me out a lot, but obviously, it didn\'t in the draft, but it definitely helped me out once I made the team."
One way that Golden might very well help the Steelers in 2013 is if they use him in the slot occasionally as a nickelback in some Big Nickel packages. The Steelers like their safeties to understand not only both safety roles, but the nickel role as well and Golden told Todd he\'s been getting work all over the secondary this year in training camp.
"They still move me around at corner, move me around at nickel," he said. "I\'m pretty much playing all the different positions that you can play in the secondary, which is a plus for me."
Another plus when it comes to Golden is his ability to contribute on special teams, and that is a job he not only knows he has to do, but also embraces.
"That\'s something that I want to do," said Golden, who recorded two special teams tackles as a rookie. "Whatever I can do to help this team and help myself is what I want to do."
Baring injury, Golden isn\'t likely to play a lot on defense this year, but being as he plays behind Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, and is being coached by both Carnell Lake and Rod Woodson, he knows he is in a good place.
"Those guys are very teachable," said Golden. "They can tell you what to do, but they can also show what to do, and they can also tell you from their own experience what they did when they were in those certain situations. So it helps me out a lot, especially in the film room where they can get up there and draw it up on the board and go over it in the field room as well."
Golden doesn\'t know for sure how many snaps he\'ll play this week in the Steelers second preseason game against the Washington Redskins Monday night, but you can expect him to be versatile nonetheless.
"Whatever the coaches present to me, I\'m going to go out there and attack," he said. "I like being out there on defense, but like I say, I know I\'m going to have to go out there and make plays on special teams as well. So I\'m going to be out there and whenever the coaches throw me in at defense you know I\'m going to be ready to go."
You can hear Todd\'s entire interview with Golden below.