Tie up one or two offensive linemen and allow the linebackers to come in and clean up. It's a thankless job.
But it's one Martavius Prince would love to have.
Prince, a 6-2, 285-pound nose tackle from Southern Mississippi, spent the past two months working with the Steelers in their offseason program after signing with the team as an undrafted rookie. In another month, he'll head to his first NFL training camp and his first live audition.
A student of the game, Prince can't wait.
He spent the past two months with the team taking in everything defensive line/assistant head coach John Mitchell has had to say, and studying his playbook, learning the nuances of the Steelers defense.
There's been no running about the city of Pittsburgh for this rookie.
"I just relax, I just like to chill," said Prince. "I'm very much to myself, low key and just watch some TV. I'm trying to learn what I've got to do. I can make friends later. I'm not worried about that."
A run-stuffing nose tackle – he was named Conference USA's top run-stuffing tackle last season by the Sporting News – Prince knows he's got a dirty job in Pittsburgh's defense.
"You've got to be able to sustain a lot of pressure and be able to bounce back," said Prince, who majored in architectural engineering technology.
"Every play isn't going to be good. But you've got to have that mindset, especially at nose tackle because you're going to have two sets of hands on you all the time. If you're not making plays, that can be frustrating. But if you're taking care of your responsibilities, it's a team game and it's all right."
Prince may be selling himself a bit short.
A two-year starter for the Golden Eagles, the Fort Pierce, Fla., native registered 49 tackles and a team-high 15 tackles for a loss as a junior. He followed that up with 40 tackles – 11 for a loss – and 6.5 sacks as a senior.
"We played a little bit of a mixture of both when I was at Southern Mississippi, we played the 3-4 and the 4-3, but the technique is new," Prince said of playing the nose in Pittsburgh's defense. "Playing at that position, though, is not new. The biggest thing is learning what you have to do and just building off of that."
And that's why Prince – a thinking man's defensive tackle – has hung on every word Mitchell has had to say. Mitchell played collegiately at Alabama for Bear Bryant.
"He's a pretty straight-forward guy. You've just got to get it done," Prince said. "You listen to him anyway because you want to learn more. We're young and we want to learn as much as we can. Naturally, you want to listen to that. But with him coming from Bear Bryant, a coaching legend, you listen even that much more because it's like listening to that legend."
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.