Interview: Lack Of ILB Depth Made Garrett Pougnet Choose Pittsburgh

Bringing you another Pittsburgh Steelers’ interview courtesy of our good friend Ron Lippock of the Pittsburgh Sports Daily BulletinToday, Ron chats up linebacker Garrett Pougnet, attending minicamp on a tryout basis. They discuss why he came to Pittsburgh, how seriously the team takes special teams, and his transition from safety to linebacker.

Be sure to check out Ron’s book, Steelers’ Takeaways: Player Memories Through The Decades, featuring over 400 interviews with players and coaches, past and present. You can buy it on Amazon through the link provided here.

First, let me know how it’s going there as you get to day three of practices?

It’s going well. Finished up two practices and have one more tomorrow. Collectively we’re getting better as a group of guys at each position which is good for the Steelers.

Tell me why you chose Pittsburgh as the place to sign?

Well from a personal standpoint, the defense here needed linebacker help. They lost a couple of guys and my agent was all over that. I just want to come in and help any way possible.

That, and the team has such a rich foundation. Their excellence and continued way of winning and tradition was attractive.

Any one help you most as you work through the practices?

Coach Jerry O {Olsavsky} has been great in helping – it’s all new information. New schemes. He’s been helpful getting the gameplan laid out for us and in the film room explaining things, We’re not going to be right 100% of the time at this stage but he has been encouraging us to run around and play fast and to fix the things that need to be fixed. He’s got a fired up room of linebackers.

I’m also rooming with Courtney Love – he’s a great guy. We’ve spent some time together and helping each other out.

On the field, what have you been focusing on, and who on offense has stood out to you?

First and foremost we’ve just been focusing on the playbook. Communication has been the big thing – getting all the calls down. We make all the calls for the defensive line – that’t our job at our position.

It’s been mostly the base defense. We’ve been working on out zone drops a lot. We’ve all come from different backgrounds so we’re all just trying to get on the same page.

As far as who on offense has been impressive. Mason Rudolph has done some real good things. You can tell he comes ready to work. I’ve been impressed with him. And the wide receiver – Washington. He’s doing well. You can tell they have that connection.

Both sides are making plays – on both sides of the ball. We’re getting better each practice.

How do you make this team, do you think?

On special teams, for sure. It’s a huge thing. I don’t know if other teams take it as seriously as Pittsburgh does, but here it’s treated as important as offense and defense. I played special teams all four years in college so I know I can play well on that unit. Special teams can set up the offense and defense and win games. So I’m going to give it all I got.

Also, my flexibility – I can play different positions. I played safety and linebacker and special teams in college. I’m a football player. I can play different positions and I’m competitive. Whether I’m playing PIG basketball with friends or with things every day, I want to win and give it all I got.

Tell me what the biggest obstacle is you may have- your small school background?

I’d say the small school background yeah. Not seeing that speed at my level in college. But I feel I adjusted well over the past two days, I’m just developing skills at linebacker. My first three years in college I played safety. Now I’m just polishing up on my linebacker skills and working on my craft. I’m not perfect – I need to get better each day. I’m not satisfied with where I’m at.

Tell me about who you are off the field? 

I’m a happy guy. I like to make the most of everything. And I’m family oriented. I have a close family at home. I like to meet the guys and build relationships. To make the most of my connections.

Being from Flint, Michigan – how did that shape who you are?

I’m from a little bit outside of Flint – the suburbs. We are a hard working, blue collar town like Pittsburgh. Just smaller. My dad worked for GM before we moved from Flint. I got my work ethic from my dad and from the people on the area. We get up and get the job done.

Lastly….what’s the goal – the hope at this point?

I want to get on the field – as quickly as  I can. My big thing is to develop personally. There are a lot of good players here. I have to work for all I can get.

There were thirteen guys who contributed as undrafted free agents last year here. I want to follow in their footsteps. Whether it’s the practice squad or special teams, or hopefully getting reps with the defense, I just want to help this team in any way I can to win a championship. That’s my goal.

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