Cobb trying to regain magic

There aren't many players from Temple running around the NFL. The program, in fact, gets so little respect that it's been booted out of the Big East. That's the same Big East that was forced to raid Conference USA to have enough schools to continue as a football conference after three of its teams bolted for the ACC.

But Temple has not been totally devoid of talent in recent seasons. In fact, the Steelers have two former Temple stars on their roster right now in linebacker Rian Wallace, a fifth-round draft pick, and wide receiver Zamir Cobb, who spent last season in the team's injured reserve.

And if Wallace and Cobb have anything to say about it, the Steelers will have a pair of former Owls on their 53-man roster when they break camp at the end of August.

As a fifth-round draft pick on a team in desperate need of linebackers, Wallace would have to be downright awful not to earn a spot on the Steelers' roster. Cobb, meanwhile, all but had the team made last year in training camp before suffering a broken ankle that forced the Steelers to place him on injured reserve Aug. 24.

"I thought Zamir had a great chance of making our team last year," said Steelers' receivers coach Bruce Arians, himself a former Temple head coach - though long before Cobb or Wallace ever played there. "He has a different style. He can play inside or outside and was having an outstanding preseason before breaking his ankle."

Cobb was pleased his position coach had those nice things to say about him. But he knows as an undrafted rookie, he's always going to have to earn a roster spot.

"What happened last year was last year," Cobb said at the Steelers' mini-camp last week, his first on-field action with the team since being placed on IR. "I can't take anything for granted. I've got to keep working and earn a place on this team.

"I just can't even explain how good it feels to be out here running around again."

Though he was around the team all last season, Cobb was not permitted to practice with Steelers because of NFL rules regarding players on IR. That meant a season of sitting around, rehabbing his ankle and watching the success the Steelers had, wishing he could be a part of it.

"It was tough, I'm not going to lie, but I learned a lot too," Cobb said. "There are a lot of leaders in this locker room and I just tried to fit in and learn as much as I could."

It was a far cry different from Temple, where Cobb was the Big Man on Campus, earning first-team All-Big East honors opposite Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald was a first-round draft pick, while Cobb went unnoticed until stepping onto the field for the Steelers at mini-camp last year. As the off-season workouts wrapped up and training camp began, Cobb was the silky-smooth player who always seemed to be open, never dropping a catchable pass.

"I was having a good camp, but that was last year," said Cobb. "That's history. I can't let up this year. Every time I step onto the field, I want to make something good happen."

The Steelers have added a pair of receivers this season in free agent signee Cedrick Wilson and fourth-round draft pick Fred Gibson, helping to make up for the free agent loss of Plaxico Burress. Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El also have spots sewn up on the team, leaving Lee Mays, special teams' gunner Sean Morey and Cobb among the others battling for one or possibly two spots.

"I can't worry about how I fit into the team's plans or who they brought in," said Cobb. "I just have to make sure that I make it as difficult as I can for the coaches not to include me in their plans."


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