The Pittsburgh Steelers got a chance to take a look at many of their young players this past weekend during rookie minicamp, a group that, of course, includes all of their rookie draft picks and undrafted free agent signings, but is also includes all first-year players on the roster, those players who do not have an accrued season.
One player who has never even taken a rep at a training camp for the Steelers, but who did not have an opportunity to take the field with the first-year players, was 2015 second-round cornerback Senquez Golson, who is officially classed as a second-year player because he spent the year on injured reserve, which counts toward an accrued season.
The downside of that of course is that he didn’t get to participate in that first phase of meaningful football activities with all of the young players, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t getting himself ready to go to resume the football career that was suddenly put on hold with a torn labrum last spring.
In fact, as he told Teresa Varley recently for the team’s website, he’s been 100 percent focused on football ever since the league announced the teams’ schedules, which helped the reality of the situation settle in for him. “We know the schedule, know the opponents”, he said. “It’s time to go to work”.
Not that he feels entirely comfortable with where he is, considering he has been away from the game in some of its most important facets for some time now. It’s been quite a while, for example, since he’s put a helmet and shoulder pads on.
“I can’t wait for OTAs, minicamp, training camp”, he told Varley, saying that he is “definitely ready to get out there. More importantly, he said, “I need the reps, I need as many reps as I can. That will help me get that normal feeling back”.
Of course, Golson’s rookie season was far from normal, especially considering that he was a high draft pick, the sort of player who you might expect to actually be making contributions to the football team. Instead, he was often spending his time in rehab and in some ways isolated from his team, knowing that he could not help them win games.
He talked about that experienced and phrased it in a familiar term, describing it as a different kind of “rookie wall”, but one that was mental rather than physical. “You could probably call it depression as far as trying to figure everything out”, he said. “I had to figure out ways to get better off the field. I had to figure out Pittsburgh on my own”.
Yet he did see an upside to his unusual rookie year, ultimately saying the he was “glad it happened” because he “got to see a lot of things” that he would have missed had he been playing instead.
Golson spent his first season as a professional searching for different ways to grow personally and as a football player without actually practicing. But now he gets to feel normal again, and in some ways, is more ready to begin that path than he would have been otherwise.