Rookie snapshot: Willie Colon

Steelers rookie offensive lineman Willie Colon likes what he's seen of his new teammates thus far.

He's even taken a little of the good-natured kidding that comes along with being a rookie. But much like his tough-guy persona on the football field, the Pittsburgh Steelers' fourth-round draft pick out of Hofstra has a breaking point.

"I feel like a freshman all over again. You just have to shut your mouth and try to learn," Colon said at the Steelers' minicamp last weekend. "Every rookie gets (a hard time) sometime. I know it's coming. All I can do is take it and keep on rolling with the punches."

But ...

"We'll see how far it goes. I won't take a lot, but they just try to keep you humble. But if it gets overboard, I'll bite you."

The 6-3, 315-pound Colon said that last statement with his trademark smile on his face and was kidding. It was the only hint of the brashness Colon had shown on the day when the Steelers made him the highest pick out of Hofstra since quarterback Gino Carmazzi went in the third round in 2000.

Part of the reason for that is Colon admits to being a little in awe of his new teammates.

"You look around here and see (Alan) Faneca, (Ben) Roethlisberger, (Troy) Polamalu and some of the other guys. I was watching these guys in the Super Bowl," Colon said. It's humbling experience. You just try to learn. It shows how hard I've worked to get here, but I also have a lot of hard work ahead of me to get where they're at. It's a whole learning experience. You have to take it step by step."

Another reason for his reserve at the Steelers' minicamp? He's been somewhat overwhelmed by the enormity of the task in front of him.

"Man, my head is swimming right now," Colon said. "We've put in like 95 percent of the playbook in the first day. I'm trying to learn it the best that I can. We don't get that many reps, so I'm trying to make the most of the ones I get and show every coach that I'm ready to go."

The first step for Colon is learning the right tackle position. Colon is four inches shorter than the Steelers' starting right tackle, Max Starks, but he makes up for that with outstanding strength.

"You look at big guys, like Max Starks, and you say, can they bend their knees and get under people?" said Steelers offensive line/assistant head coach Russ Grimm. "You look at shorter guys and say, do they have enough power to hold the point? He's shown that."

But Colon also wants to show more.

"They want me to learn (right tackle) and feel comfortable," Colon said. "But I'm trying to learn a little right guard too, because you never know what will happen. I talked to a lot of guys on the line and what they came in as wasn't what they always played. They do some flip-flopping around on the line."

Colon has already taken to Grimm's somewhat gruff teaching style, something that wasn't exactly easy considering Colon, a native of the Bronx, grew up a fan of the New York Giants and hating the Washington Redskins. Grimm was a star guard for the Redskins in the '80s.

"I was born in '83. I was Giants fan and Washington was one team I didn't really like," Colon said. "But he's a great coach. I'm having fun. He's been real good. He doesn't want us to be timid. He's like, ‘I can bring you to the water, but you've got to drink it.' That's what he's doing. It's a short mini-camp, but it's a long, long season."

And it likely won't be long before Grimm tabs a nickname on Colon as he does with all of his linemen.

"I'm pretty sure it's coming," Colon said with a laugh. "I'm going to mess up sometime and he's going to nail me. A lot of the younger guys have them. One of these guys got the name Turtle. I think it's Chukky. But that's cool."

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