Undrafted rookie offensive lineman Anthony Steen missed all of OTAs as he rehabbed his shoulder, recovering from surgery for a torn labrum. He injured it last July, but played the entire season with the tear. He had offseason surgery, which led to his being undrafted.
He was cleared to practice finally for mini-camp and I talked to him after his second practice back.
His shoulder is healthy enough to do football activities, but he indicated that it was "still sore" and admitted still "kind of recovering from it."
He said finally being back to football activities "felt weird" because of the time it had been. He said that "everything felt rusty."
"I was out there trying to knock the rust off right now," he told me.
Especially being an undrafted player, missing time is far from ideal. The team has not invested anything on you monetarily and is always looking to find other options. Steen knows that he is behind.
He knows that this year's group of rookies came in two weeks later than last year's because the draft was later. His shoulder rehab has pushed hum back another three weeks. "I gotta basically do everything all over again, start from ground zero," he said.
The mental side he feels comfortable with. "I'm in there watching film, I feel fine," he said. "But it's a whole different ballgame on the field. You only have two, three seconds to realize what you have...That's what' I'm trying to comprehend right now, make that transition."
While he says it is much more difficult to take that classroom knowledge and apply it on the practice field, he seems to be doing okay.
Bruce Arians described Steen as "extremely bright." And in his first couple of practices, the fact that Steen was not getting pointed out was a good thing.
"I didn't see anyone hollering at him and that's a really good thing because the guys that have been practicing for three weeks, they were getting hollered at a lot," Arians told reporters. "We'll see when we put pads on. I like where he's at."
That's the good part. However, missing a lot of time, when it comes to the depth chart and being behind, Arians said that Steen "is way back there."
But there is optimism. One of Steen's agents (he is co-represented) thinks very highly of him, and it seemed to be even more than general agent talk. He described Steen as "an even better person than player" and as "the type of person (he) hopes (his) son grows up to be."
On the field, he would have been one of the more highly desired guards coming out of college. His agent says that "if he can just get 75-80% healthy, he'll push Fanaika and Watford for that RG position."
An undrafted guard who is behind because of injury and competing for the starting job?
Steen was a little more realistic.
"Right now, I think they have their starting guys out there," he said, knowing that it is Paul Fanaika and Earl Watford battling to start. "For me, I'm just worrying about getting back to where I was. I feel like a freshman trying learn everything and trying to get my shoulder back where I'm still not 100 percent yet. For me, I'm just going to focus on what I need to do before I think about it."
He has a few more weeks to rehab and study. Then the pads go on for training camp. Will he have time to make an impression and find a way on to the practice squad or even as a member of the active roster? Could he even compete for a starting job?
We saw Fanaika move quickly up the depth chart in training camp and then take advantage of a injury and start all 16 games. Even now he is the leader for the starting job.
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