The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Townsend is considered a good cover corner who lacks ideal size. Townsend couldn't do anything about his height. But his strength, now that was a different matter. He arrived at the team's training camp here at St. Vincent College looking much stronger than he had in previous seasons.
Townsend attributes his added bulk to workouts in Atlanta with teammate Lee Flowers. "Lee and I trained really hard together," Townsend said. "I guess I've added more lean muscle mass. I'm the same weight as before, I just feel stronger."
Townsend tested the free agent waters during the offseason, but after checking out a few other teams, he decided he was best served returning to the Steelers as the primary backup to starters Chad Scott and Dewayne Washington. The Steelers rewarded Townsend with a four-year, $4.2-million contract that included a $1.1-million bonus. It's a lot of money for a guy who only has five career starts and two career interceptions - both of which came last season. But it also lets you know the premium value NFL teams place on third corners.
"I looked at other situations and I had a couple of offers to go elsewhere," the 26-year-old Townsend said. "But in the end, I decided my best opportunity would be to return here. We've got a chance to do something special."