Are you a Steeler?
Not yet. My agent and the Steelers are working on the logistics. Definitely a place that I want to be though. My trip here so far has been great. I picked a beautiful day to show up. I know a few players here: Brett Keisel, Chris Hoke, Shaun Nua, all my BYU guys. And they had nothing but great things to say about this team, this city, this organization, the people that work here. So I hope the business side of it can be taken care of and we can show up for work on the 19th.
How would they use you?
Obviously as a linebacker, special teams is a must. And with the departure of a great linebacker here, obviously spots need to be filled. Probably come in as an outside linebacker for now and spend the offseason figuring out where we all fit.
Were you surprised the Saints released you after starting all year?
Yeah, very surprised. But that’s the business. We went through a very difficult season in 2005, not only from a football standpoint, but from a lifestyle standpoint, being shipped to San Antonio. Even after that season – you can’t ever make excuses in this business – we were all judged off of that performance. And any time a coaching staff leaves – the entire coaching staff left – you don’t have anybody left to fight for you. That’s kind of how the business goes. I’m looking forward to coming here and being a contributor here with the Steelers. This is one of the NFL’s primo teams. It has been for years and still is, so it’d be a great fit.
When you say contract logistics, how close do you mean?
I don’t even know. You do your workout and have your physical and that stuff, and that’s why they have their people and I have my people. I do know that there’s a deal in the works. Whether it’s comparable with other offers I have out there, we’ll see, but like I said this is the place where I want to be, so if it comes down to a close call this is where I hope I end up.
Where else did you visit?
San Francisco has an offer for me and the Titans, which is where I was at.
Do you have offers from both of them?
Were you surprised the Titans didn’t make you a qualifying offer?
Not really because they have a good group of linebackers they’ve invested a lot of money in at this point. Keith Bulluck is a big-money guy for them, and they just signed David Thornton to a nice deal last year, and so that’s a part of the business. So that wasn’t a big surprise, no.
Of the BYU gang, who were you closest to?
Me and Keisel used to run around a bit. Chris Hoke is one year older than Keisel so I’ve only known Chris for one season, and me and Keisel had two years together. Shaun Nua is a year younger than me.
Were you in the lineup with Keisel?
Yeah. I was near him, depending on the plays and whatnot. It was fun for me – as you guys have seen with Brett – he’s a great guy to play with. He’s athletic. He does things that no other defensive end can do athletically. I think if he wasn’t so dang big he’d be a linebacker because he’s so dang athletic.
He’s boring off the field, isn’t he?
Hah. Yeah, he’s really boring.
Did he have anything to do with you getting here?
I don’t believe so. Coincidence. I think everybody in the NFL, the NFL as a whole is a family. It gets known if you’re a good player and more importantly just a good guy. I think there’s a lot of problems in the NFL as far as the way people are conducting themselves off the field, so I think that teams are looking for good guys and being a BYU guy definitely doesn’t hurt, because if you can make it through the four years or five years you come out of there a pretty good guy.
Did you have injury problems last year?
No. Nicks and all that good stuff, but I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve never had a surgery. Pretty boring when it comes to the medical side of things. That definitely helps.
Were the Titans set at linebacker?
Yeah, that’s all it is. That’s what makes the NFL so good with the salary cap and whatnot. Players can only be on a team for so many years or eventually they’re going to cost too much. It’s a timing deal, they gave me a great opportunity. And like I said I still have an offer from them, so I can definitely go back. I know the defense and stuff. It may be an option for me. I’ve already been there, I know what the situation is there, that’s why I’d like to come to the Steelers.
Have the Steelers given you a specific position?
Ah, outside. Probably both. I mean, specifically I don’t know. I sat down with coach Butler for about one hour this morning. I don’t want to throw anything out there that’s not true.
Can you play both, 3-4 and 4-3?
Yeah, I can do all that. In college, when I was at BYU – they’ve since changed this – but when I was there we ran a 3-3-5. Our safeties would come down and act almost like a fourth linebacker. So I do have experience in a similar defense. Now, it’s not the 3-4 and there are some new gap fits you have to work with.
How does Pittsburgh stack up with others for playing time?
I think it’s very good. That’s why I think it’s going to be a great fit. Like I said, I think Tennessee is set at linebacker. I think the Steelers have great linebackers but there’s no doubt that I can probably be a contributing factor to the group. That’s all I’m looking for, a chance to prove myself. I did it with the Saints as a rookie. I earned a starting job there as a seventh-round draft pick. I have no doubt and I hope the coaches know that, I’m a guy they can bring in who’s going to work and earn his job. So, I think I see some opportunity here. I also have some opportunities to play. I think I’m at the point now and the offseason is so close, that it’s decision time. We just need to get all the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted, and the number game ... to make sure everything stacks up, to make sure everything’s square.
On opportunity to start here:
Oh, yeah. I would hope that the Steelers coaching staff expects every player who shows up here to become a Pro Bowler. If I was a coach, that’s what I would want, I would want every player to show up thinking they’re the best player and work as hard as they can be to ultimately be in Maui in February. That’s the ultimate goal, to be the best you can be in anything you do. That’s my thing, I want to come in here – I don’t want to fill anybody’s shoes here as far as linebackers go, I got to do what I do, but I want to come in here and be the best I can be, whether it’s linebacker or quarterback – I don’t think they need a quarterback here – I just want to be the best I can be in all aspects of my life.