Ryan Shazier, Dick LeBeau Discuss Rookie Linebacker’s Progression

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie first-round draft selection Ryan Shazier sat down for an interview with Movin’ the Chains on SiriusXM Radio, during which he talked about what it’s been like so far in his first offseason and heading into his first training camp. While he was immediately inserted into the starting lineup, he talked about the need to earn his place and not take his position for granted.

I definitely have to earn everything I have. I feel like I’ve been trying to do that while I’ve been here. Everything coach has been asking me to do, I do it, and if I make a mistake I try not to make it twice and just continue to try to learn from the mistakes I made before. Just listen to the older guys, earn their respect, and just listen to everything they have to say, try to soak it in, and use it on the field.

Still, at times it doesn’t seem as though Dick LeBeau and the coaching staff is actually looking at Shazier as a rookie, or at least isn’t using him as a rookie in practice. Many observers have noted his movements on the field, and he talked about that as well.

“They’re moving me around a little bit. I’m just doing whatever the coaches ask me to do. They want me to rush, I’ll rush. They want me to cover, I’ll cover. I’m just happy to be here and have the opportunity to play for the Steelers”.

LeBeau was also asked about this phenomenon of throwing so much at a rookie defensive player, and he talked about the fine line between pushing the young player and overwhelming him, as well as the temptations of putting too much on him too soon.

We have to be a little careful early on with Ryan because he does have that flexibility, he can do so many things, and I want him to get comfortable in a few things, and then gradually put more on his plate. You have to remember he is a young college player, came out early, and is still in his first training camp.

But he’s doing great. I just don’t want to put too much in there. I want him to continue his growth, but as a coordinator, I would say that he is off the charts in terms of the stuff that you can do with him because he’s so fast. And his quickness—I knew he was quick, but he’s shown me some stuff up here that’s quicker than quick.

LeBeau was also impressed with the rookie’s demeanor, which he says he expected, but noted that it’s always nice to see it come true.

“Some things you don’t really know until you get them under your thumb and on your practice field. He has been excellent. His demeanor is what we hoped for and kind of expected. It’s always good to see it produced. His intellect is good, and his athleticism is kind of off the charts”.

As far as he’s come in his first few months as a professional, however, he’s also learning how far he still must go before he’s comfortable with where he is, both from a mental and physical standpoint. He talked about what it’s like to try to adjust to the professional-level arms of the NFL quarterbacks in comparison to what he was used to facing in college.

I’ve definitely been figuring out how good the quarterbacks are nowadays. I think I’ve been getting to my depths pretty well. Coach hasn’t really been complaining about my depth or my drops. It’s just the velocity on the ball, they squeeze it in the littlest window, and they make one wrong throw, they understand the next time they’re going to have it in the right area, because I feel like I almost had four picks, almost by the fingertips.

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Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.