Game slowing down for Capizzi

The Steelers cut Jason Capizzi last year -- reluctantly so -- but got a break when they were able to put the massive offensive tackle back on their roster. Capizzi says the game's slowing down for him, and that could make him the buzz of training camp -- again.

PITTSBURGH – Last summer was a joyride for Jason Capizzi. He was the super sleeper out of IUP, the hometown longshot who captured imaginations as a post-draft steal, a 6-foot-9 offensive tackle with great feet.

Word had it that Kevin Colbert was talking him up big behind closed doors.

And then Capizzi got cut.

Dream over.

Until now.

While he's not the fresh name reporters love to discuss, he is drawing raves from behind closed doors. "He'll amaze you," said one source with the team.

But this time, this year, Capizzi isn't getting worked up by the buzz.

"Just trying to get better, man," was his response yesterday after the sixth Steelers OTA workout.

Capizzi has only been through four of the workouts. He was in a walking boot for a month because of a stress fracture in his foot. But he was in uniform to start last week and has been working at left tackle with the second team. He's still feeling some pain, and won't heed the training staff's caution that he stop for a break, because: "I've got to make this team," he said.

Capizzi was asked about what happened last year.

"I thought I had the team made," he said. "But nothing's ever guaranteed in this sport. So, I went out and did my thing. I went out and went against different competition: different schemes, different fronts, different kinds of players.

And I think I got better from it.

"I'm glad to be back now, very glad. It's nice coming in here, like last year at this time I was definitely afraid of going against James Harrison and this year the game has just slowed down a lot." Capizzi spent time last year on the practice squads of the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs wanted to keep him through the offseason and into this year's training camp, but the Steelers plucked him off the Chiefs' practice squad and put Capizzi on their roster for the playoff game after Max Starks got hurt. The Chiefs weren't pleased.

"They were mad," Capizzi said. "I actually had my final meeting with Kansas City before I came home for the offseason. But before I left Kansas City to come home I got a call from my agent saying Pittsburgh was picking me up for the playoffs, before I was even on the plane. So it was a nice plane ride home."

Why were the Chiefs mad?

"My agent told me they were pretty upset, but I was kind of upset with Kansas City. You lost the last nine games of the year and they're getting their proverbial butts kicked and I thought I was better than some of them and felt they should've brought me up off the practice squad. And I knew they had 45 draft picks this year and I knew they were going to bring in every guy known to man, so I didn't know what my future was like and I kind of knew things better here."

He's a new man, a hardened-but-wiser man, a man with a plan.

"Yeah," he said. "I'm trying to gain not just my coaches' respect by playing the game, I'm also trying to gain my teammates' respect, that they can trust me being out there and they know I'm going to be able to get the job done and help them win games and win a Super Bowl."

The key?

"Everything's just slowed down," he said.

Capizzi weighs 330 pounds, about five pounds heavier than the Steelers want him to be in training camp. Will he approach this training camp any differently than his first camp?

"No," he said. "I'm going to do everything I did last year – work hard. I'm going to be obviously a little better at what I'm doing out there. I won't be as nervous out there. I'm going to do whatever I can."

Does he feel more status, more respect from his teammates as he enters his second camp?

"Yeah, a little bit," he said. "I'm trying to gain it every day."

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