Heading into his third season, Gay feels he's ready for that role, particularly after stepping in for McFadden last season when he was out with a broken arm.
Here's what Gay had to say this week as he went through OTAs.
You look bigger. Have you been working out harder or what?
I am bigger. Ike (Taylor) told me it would happen as I got older, I'd start putting on more natural weight. But I've been working out, eating right. I guess I'm not eating McDonald's and stuff like that any more. I'm actually watching what I put in my body and I'm eating good food. I'd never done that before.
So what are you at now?
I'm at 198 pounds.
Wow, that's a lot bigger than when you got here.
Yeah, I was 183 pounds when I got here. But it's good weight.
Yeah, it looks like it's all in your shoulders.
That's the thing, I don't want to put on the wrong kind of weight. And if it slowed me down at all, I'd drop back down. There are too many fast receivers in this league. But it doesn't seem to be slowing me down.
You started a bunch of games last season, but when camp opens this year, you're going to be looked at as the new guy on the league's No. 1 defense. Is there pressure there?
Yeah, there's some. But having played a lot last season gave me so much confidence. I know I can play at a high level.
You played a lot even after Bryant came back.
Yeah, the coaches did a good job of keeping us both involved.
How'd they handle that?
They just told us that we were both playing a high level and that they wanted to keep both of us out there. It was good.
You made a lot of fans last year at the parade. A lot of people who didn't know much about you were like, ‘Wow, that William Gay is a funny guy.'
I was just so excited. I'd never won anything, even in pee wee football. I'd never won a championship before. So when I got up there and they gave me the mic, it just all came out.
So many of the other guys would just say something like, ‘Thanks Pittsburgh,' but you were just having fun with it.
Exactly. I was just so happy to be part of something like that. Like I said, I'd never won any kind of championship before. It was a great feeling.