The transition from college football to the National Football league can be difficult. Sure, there are players who make the transition look easy, but most players would likely say even those who come into the league and play right away, there is still learning to be done.
Getting to the point where you aren’t thinking, but just reacting and playing, is something which takes time, and Vance McDonald knows all about that. Drafted in the second round by the San Francisco 49ers, McDonald remembers what it is like to be the new guy, learning a new playbook and going from being a student to a professional athlete.
Before Wednesday’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs) practice, McDonald spoke about rookie tight end Zach Gentry, and his overall progress.
See what McDonald had to say, via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
McDonald on rookie fifth-round pick Zach Gentry: “It’s a lot for a rookie to just handle the playbook in general. You don’t even get the chance to slow down and even think about what you’re doing. (more)— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) May 29, 2019
McDonald (cont.) "As a rookie, you’re spending so many hours here just trying to figure out the offense and how we operate. You’re not even playing football. You’re trying to ace a test. When we get to the point where he knows the playbook, he’ll find his stride."— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) May 29, 2019
This is the perfect description of what it must feel like for a new player entering the league, and McDonald paints a very clear picture of where Gentry is in his progress. It is encouraging hearing Gentry is adapting well, but at the same time expectations should be tempered not just for Gentry, but all rookies as they all handle the switch from NCAA to the NFL.
McDonald wasn’t done talking, and he talked about Donte Moncrief and Diontae Johnson:
Vance McDonald on Donte Moncrief: “I love what Crief is doing. He’s such a smooth route runner. You know he’s been well-coached in the past. He’s been so fun to watch. It’s going to be a great relationship between him and 7.”— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) May 29, 2019
McDonald on rookie third-round pick Diontae Johnson: “He’s sort of like this wild card that Ben throws in there every now and then just to see what he can do. But I think the guy can fly. It will be fun to see him light it up in the preseason.”— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) May 29, 2019
- James Conner and Vance McDonald talk OTAs, leadership and more!
James Conner finds himself in a new role entering 2019. No longer is he just the placeholder for Le’Veon Bell. Now he is the leader of the running back group, and he seems ready to lead the best way he knows how — with a desire and dedication to hopefully get the team back to the promised land.
James Conner & Vance McDonald talk about the new players on the roster, expanded roles and being motivated by the Super Bowl. pic.twitter.com/UMXP1suAwi— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 29, 2019
- T.J. Watt even better?!
T.J. Watt has improved dramatically in his first two years in the NFL, but could he get even better? According to Watt, there is plenty he can still improve upon. Most notably, he mentions his pass rushing skills, overall readiness and stepping up as a leader in year three!
T.J. Watt talks about becoming a leader, working on his pass rush, building chemistry this time of year and more. pic.twitter.com/3ULmuf7fqs— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 29, 2019
- OTAs News and Notes
Maurkice Pouncey on why Steelers culture strong enough to withstand tumultuous year: "It's Pittsburgh, baby. That's how we rock. It's easy."— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 29, 2019
New Steelers WR Donte Moncrief: ‘This is a big year for me.’ pic.twitter.com/rB0gLyR9mf— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 29, 2019