Sure, he spent his time in the adjoining section for the University of Pittsburgh football team, but it still feels like home for Mark Estermyer. There are subtle differences, too, like practicing on the closer grass fields when outside and entering the locker room from different areas.
"And now, I can park in the first parking lot without getting into trouble,'' Estermyer said, referring to the lot in between the team offices and the indoor field that is reserved for Steelers players, coaches and staff, as well as the Pitt coaches and staff.
A major difference for Estermyer, and obviously for any NFL rookie, is that he'll now be getting paid to play football. And while his long-snapping talents are a reason why the Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent this past week, money could be a reason he sticks with the team.
Greg Warren, the Steelers' incumbent at the position, is scheduled to make $620,000 this season as a fifth-year player. Estermyer checks in at $310,000. That might not seem like a big difference, but if Estermyer performs well this spring and during summer camp money could be a deciding factor in his favor.
But that's not the way Estermyer is looking at the situation right now. He's just trying to settle in with a new team and learn as much as he can from Warren and the Steelers' kickers.
"I want to go out there every day and snap my butt off,'' Estermyer said. "Hopefully, that will be good enough to give me a chance. And they have a bunch of good guys here. They're helping me out as much as possible.''
While the majority of Steelers rookies dress at makeshift stalls placed in the middle of the locker room until training camp begins and the roster is trimmed, Estermyer is jammed into the corner with Warren and the Steelers' kickers, punter Daniel Sepulveda and place-kicker Jeff Reed.
Warren is coming off knee surgery that forced him to miss the second half of last season. He appeared to be doing pretty well during the Steelers' mini-camp workouts this weekend, but it's only in shorts with no contact. The real test will be at training camp this summer.
"I feel pretty good right now,'' Warren said. "But we don't have to do too much right now. The spring mainly is a teaching session for the young guys like (Estermyer). He seems to be picking things up pretty quick. He's a real good snapper, so we should have a nice little competition this summer.''
And that's all Estermyer could ask for from the Steelers.
"That's why they brought me in here,'' Estermyer said. "To compete with Greg and see what I could do. So, I'm going to work hard, learn everything I can and do the best I can with every opportunity I get.''
And that includes parking a lot closer to the locker room.
Estermyer Settles In With Steelers
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