The Pittsburgh Steelers are now several days into this year’s camp and as a result, rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave has logged some meaningful hours with defensive line coach John Mitchell. Hargrave spoke once again with the folks on Steelers Nation Radio to discuss what it’s been like working with Mitchell, as well as his improvements, and adjusting to life on the big stage.
Hargrave has mainly been in a battle with 3rd year defensive tackle Daniel McCullers, but one disadvantage for Hargrave is his unfamiliarity with the system as well as adjusting to the level of competition in the NFL. However, he says that he’s a quick learner and is starting to put the pieces together.
“I think I’m picking up very well and starting to play faster to the competition,” Hargrave said. “I’m feeling like I’m getting better every and just coming to work every day to perfect my craft.”
One man that is tasked with making that happen is Mitchell, who’s known for being tough with players, especially the rookies. Hargrave has experienced the wrath of Mitchell already, but feels he has gained a lot from what Mitchell has taught him, saying, “He’s pretty tough. I mean he tells you all the things you need to work on, even on some of the good plays, just tells you all the things you could’ve [done] to make that play easier, so he’s helping me out a lot.”
And Hargrave says he’s taking that direction in stride.
“I feel like he’s just helping me get better, man. His job is to try to make me the best football player I can be, so I know what he’s doing and I’m taking it all in and actually doing good with it.”
Mitchell seems pleased with the young player as well. He’s praised Hargrave in the past, saying “this guy’s pretty impressive.” And he seemed more excited than usual when the Steelers took him in the 3rd round of the draft. Hargrave and Mitchell will be working closely together throughout the rest of camp, and though it’s unclear who will get the starting nod at nose tackle to begin the season, it’s hard to believe Hargrave won’t see some time on the field.
Thanks to Alex Kozora’s reports from camp, we’ve been given an inside look at how Hargrave has been looking. One thing most have noticed, at least throughout camp, is Hargrave’s athleticism and ability to use his quick first step when reading the snap. To help complement that speed, Hargrave is working on some other fundamentals to improve.
“Just my punches and hand technique; just being more consistent with my hands and letting it transition, so I ain’t need to use my first step every time I just need to use my technique and win,” he said.
All of this work, and focused attention is done in front of thousands of fans each day. It’s something many people forget about, but it’s a factor that can be difficult to adjust to, especially for someone like Hargrave who comes from the smaller college in South Carolina State University.
“You come out and it’s 5 thousand to 10 thousand fans at your practice. That’s probably as many people as I had at my games, so I can’t even imagine how the games will be,” Hargrave said.
But instead of being intimidating or distracted, Hargrave says, “It’s just motivation to me, man. It’s kind of what you’ve been dreaming of and now that you’re here you just want to take advantage of the opportunity and make the most of it.”