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Steelers Ryan Shazier living up to the hype so far

If any Steelers rookie needed to show his mettle in the team's first padded practice, it was Ryan Shazier. And he delivered. And then some.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The hierarchy of names of reverence in sports goes in a pretty basic order. First, a two-name approach is used, mostly in an effort to remember who the player is. Jordan Zumwalt or Rob Blanchflower will read and hear both names being used until they graduate into either the fairly benign Last Name only distinction ("Wheaton," or "Spaeth").

From there, it branches off into two different levels of First Name Usage. The bottom level goes for players with first names less common than last names or ones that are just easier to say - "Le'Veon," or "Jarvis" or "Ike." The real separation point is when the first names turn into elite status. Those can be the most common of first names but they are now owned by that person - "Ben," and "Troy" are the two who hold that status now.

Dejan Kovacevic broke out the rarely used by awe-inspiring Trifecta Monday, the bold usage of THREE names to describe a player. This land is reserved for those who have made some kind of historical impact on the game ("Joe Willie Namath," or "Terry Paxon Bradshaw." In DK's world, after a glowing first padded practice from the Steelers' first round draft pick in 2014, perhaps it can be used to indicate the kind of feeling one gets after watching a young player.

That player, in this example, is Ryan Dean Shazier.

In January, when we first evaluated the Ohio State product, we gushed over his explosive ability and his instincts. Some bashed him anyway, citing an issue taking on bigger blockers and making tackles. Initial reports from the Steelers' first Backs on 'Backers drill Monday suggest Shazier whipped running back LeGarrette Blount twice before the veteran finally got the better of the rookie.

It's impossible to avoid the "Kendrell Bell at his first training camp" narrative. Let's add the proper amount of hype for the age, though. Imagine if Bell was a rookie now, and just smacked a size-equivalent of Jerome Bettis, halting his forward momentum for the first time ever, in a goal line drill.

Imagine if there was video of it. Imagine the amount of Tweets beginning with "Bell be like," as well as the hundreds of thousands of readers, watchers and followers quickly establishing Bell's place in history.

We don't have images depicting Shazier's dominance in the one area many felt merited his exclusion from consideration with the 15th overall pick. We can go by media reports, Kovacevic's in particular, to stoke our enthusiasm over the rookie who, dare we say it, just may be the real deal.

If we're dipping into Three Name Territory for Shazier, if for no reason other than capturing the moment where our offseason fantasies of getting a fireplug to spark the return of Big Nasty D in Pittsburgh, we should be ok with that. Whatever you want to call him, the results will be on the field. He's doing everything he should be doing right now to establish himself as a player unafraid of contact, much stronger than his size might indicate.

We shouldn't have any fear in feeling, like Bell (another inside linebacker who established himself as a starter in camp and proceeded to have a monster rookie season), Shazier will get the requisite playing time to establish himself as the Defensive Rookie of the Year. That's way down the line, and it's far from time for predictions, but if hes able to go against a five-year veteran who's at least at or around his weight, and he can beat him noticeably in a contact-driven battle twice out of three times, we shouldn't feel hesitant about admitting our excitement for what he can do.

Remember, Shazier's greatest asset is his ability to make plays in space. If he's showing he can win 1-on-1s with sheer, brute strength, he may be further along than we want to admit.

Perhaps he's not in Three Name territory yet (although I love DK's use of it), but we can be comfortable with thinking, if nothing else, the Steelers found a talented and potentially outstanding linebacker in the first round. And he's going to be very fun to watch.