More rave reviews are coming in for the Pittsburgh Steelers second-round draft pick, running back Le'Veon Bell; this time from a fellow rookie who attended orientation weekend with Bell - Pittsburgh native Andrew Taglianetti.
Taglianetti was one of several undrafted rookie free agents the Steelers signed to fill their training camp roster, after playing for the Pitt Panthers, who share Heinz Field. Taglianetti is the son of former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Peter Taglianetti, who was with the team when they won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships over the Minnesota North Stars(1991) and the Chicago Blackhawks(1992).
If hockey means nothing to you, Taglianetti is an accomplished human being in his own right, as covered in this article from the SB Nation archives which is definitely worth the read.
As a college football player, Taglianetti leaves Pitt as the University's all-time career leader in blocked punts, with six. He was a team captain, and played both safety positions in addition to special teams duty. At 5-10 and 186 pounds, he would rival fellow rookie Shamarko Thomas as smallest safety prospect, however Thomas has a step on Taglianetti, in both 40-times and vertical leap.
While Taglianetti might not win a roster spot as a Steelers safety, if they are looking for special teams role players, he still could make the team.
With introductions out of the way, Taglianetti spoke with 93.7 the Fan recently. They asked him about his experience at the team's orientation weekend. He spoke in awe of head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and described what it was like to see Heinz Field from the other side.
During the interview, the hosts asked Taglianetti who stood out to him the most. His answer? Le'Veon Bell.
He raved about Bell's extremely quick and nimble feet. He described one of the drills they participated in, Taglianetti played the defensive player, and Bell the offensive. Taglianetti may not be a star linebacker, but he knows how to tackle and hit. Admittedly, Bell got him to whiff three times.
Granted, as Tomlin describes summer activities, it was just football in shorts - no pads. However, Taglianetti admitted he was looking to lay a shoulder into powerful Bell. Now, he will have to keep waiting until OTAs begin for another chance.
Obviously, the Steelers already saw the same characteristics Taglianetti described in Bell, justifying their decision to use their second-round pick to grab him. It's another thing to see a player's skills on exhibition, through the eyes of someone else who plays the game. Bell is passing the most important eye tests.
Here's to native son Taglianetti making this year's special teams unit, and to Bell making both this year's running back unit, and team as a whole, special too.