PITTSBURGH -- Terence Garvin wasn't drafted, nor was he signed as a free agent on draft weekend. But he's become the rookie story of the Steelers' off-season.
Garvin was placed on the 53-man roster Monday, completing a trip from the 108th-ranked college defense to the No. 1 ranked NFL defense.
Of course, it wasn't Garvin's fault that West Virginia University used him at safety. Today he's an inside linebacker with the Steelers, and he sometimes even lines up at James Harrison's old position and puts his hand in the dirt across from NFL linemen.
"I always joke around with that," said Garvin. "I used to backpedal and now I'm up here taking on tight ends and tackles. But it's cool. I just try to have fun because football's a sport that at any day you could be gone."
It could happen any moment for Garvin, but today he's elated and preparing to play in Sunday's opener against the Tennessee Titans. His primary job will be special teams; his specific job will be lining up wide on the line of scrimmage on the punt-return team.
A man can make a name for himself awfully quick in Pittsburgh by blocking a punt.
"That's what I've been trying to do since Day One, make a name for myself," Garvin said.
Last year, Garvin was a 6-3, 221-pound safety who went undrafted and unsigned. But he was invited to the Steelers' rookie camp a week after the draft and became the only invitee to sign a contract.
Garvin was part of the 90-man roster at training camp and began drawing Coach Mike Tomlin's attention during individual drills. Garvin worked his way up the depth chart and played well in preseason games. He even played some outside linebacker in the fourth quarters of the last two games.
He didn't make the original 53-man roster on Saturday, but was signed to the practice squad on Monday morning.
At Monday afternoon's practice -- as all of the recently cut players, and the practice-squad players, and their families and friends, held their collective breath as the Steelers drew closer to filling Matt Spaeth's place on the roster -- Garvin was the only non-rostered player working with the No. 1 special teams.
"I was a little excited," he admitted. "But I really didn't know for sure."
At 4 p.m., while shooting pool with Alan Baxter, Garvin got the call.
"You've got to be happy," he said. "Even making the practice squad is good work, too. Just being in the building is exciting."
ON THE FLIP SIDE ...
There's also the other side of the story, but Isaiah Green's happy he still has a place in the locker room.
Green, a cornerback, was signed to the practice squad Wednesday to replace Devin Smith. But Green had been part of the original 53-man roster on Saturday and was cut Monday to make room for special-teams gunner Antwon Blake.
"That's the business side of it," said Green. "It's cool, though, man. There are a lot of people out on the street right now."
OUT ON THE STREET
Casey Hampton, of course, is out on the street, but he's kept himself in playing shape, according to friend Larry Foote, just in case the Steelers find themselves in an emergency and need a nose tackle who turned 36 on Tuesday.
"I'm quite sure he would be the first one to call," Foote said. "Of course, I don't make any calls around here, but in this locker room everybody would, hands down. I'm quite sure the coaches would, too."
Like James Farrior and Hines Ward before him, Hampton -- a pillar of three Super Bowl appearances -- didn't receive a send-off from the team or the city. Foote says that bothers Hampton.
"Yeah, because he was a Pittsburgh guy. He loved Pittsburgh," Foote said. "He said he wanted to move back here for the fall. He said he didn't know what to do in Texas in the fall. He definitely misses it."
NO CONTRACT TALKS
The Steelers haven't called top candidates Ziggy Hood, Brett Keisel or Ryan Clark about contract extensions, and Clark said he personally doesn't expect one because the Steelers know they could sign the two older veterans next March.
"They know I like it here, that I'm comfortable here," said Clark. "I would like being here, so it depends on how bad they want us to be here. I think both of us are in a place where financially we're set, but we still want to be compensated for our play. So I guess that's what the talks would be in the spring."
Would Clark be surprised if he receives a call in the next day or two?
"I would be," he said. "I would be surprised."
Le'Veon Bell was in street clothes and Heath Miller did some light individual work. The only other injured player, Will Johnson, worked in individual drills and then put his hamstring to the test with a full sprint.
"I wanted to see if I could go 100 percent sprinting," said the fullback. "I did and it felt pretty good."
Johnson said the injury is still "tender to the touch. Yeah, I'm about 80, 85 percent."
Johnson expects to participate fully in Thursday's practice.