Pittsburgh Steelers fans held their collective breath over a week ago when news broke of cornerback Senquez Golson undergoing an MRI. Most fans assumed the test was to check on his shoulder which had him miss the entire 2015 season, but it was later revealed it was a "soft tissue" injury which is considered a short-term injury.
Golson says his shoulder is 100-percent healthy, but what most fans wondered in 2015 was when this shoulder injury occurred. Was it during OTAs? Rookie Minicamp? As it turns out, Golson's shoulder injuries date back to his time playing football and baseball at Ole Miss.
I kind of always had shoulder issues a little bit," Golson told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Fittipaldo notes how Golson's shoulder injury persisted throughout his Senior year and into OTAs with the Steelers. It was at this point the Steelers had no choice but to have the injury surgically repaired. For Golson, sitting and watching was new for him.
"It was different for me," Golson said of being idle. "I never really sat out before. I never really had an offseason when I was playing both sports. It was a lot different, but it was helpful."
Golson talked about mental repetitions and being able to learn the playbook during his time off, but there is no replacing physical repetitions. Although he is mentally prepared to play in 2016, the physical aspect of the game still has to be refined.
"It's been a while," Golson said. "I was just getting my feet wet last year. It's definitely easier than last year with me knowing the playbook already.
"I don't feel like a rookie. As far as practices goes, I have to make it to Latrobe and then get the pads on and see how that goes. I have the playbook down. At this point, it's just learning the communication from the other players, learning how they talk."
This isn't to downplay the time Golson received by being around the team, going to meeting and working on the playbook. Mike Tomlin spoke about what the time off could mean for a young player.
"I think we can sit around and speculate about what he's gained, but I don't think that will truly become evident until we start playing, and we see maybe the differences between him and the first-exposure guys," coach Mike Tomlin said. "He should stick out in that setting, just from the time spent, the [knowledge] of the drills and how we go about doing business, the flow of the day, the input of information, things of that nature. He's going to have an opportunity to display what has been learned once he gets going."
As Golson said, only time will tell how rusty he is on the football field, and how well his shoulder will hold up when the team actually starts playing football and ditches the "football in shorts" moniker. With such a young secondary preparing for 2016, they will need Golson on the field to help blanket receivers and improve the team's pass defense...hopefully without any further injury to his shoulder.