Snapshot: Cordarrow Thompson

The Snapshot series of Steelers rookies continues today with a feature on undrafted nose tackle Cordarrow Thompson.

It was a daily post-workout ritual during the Steelers' just-completed OTAs:

Veteran defensive linemen Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel and Chris Hoke doing the talking and rookie nose tackle Cordarrow Thompson, among other newcomers, doing the listening, and then applying what he'd learned at the expense of the blocking sled.

"Every day after practice I'd be hyped up to go over there on the sled and get some more practice in," Thompson said.

Thompson, a free-agent rookie from Virginia Tech, had the chance to perfect his technique based on the expertise compiled by a combined 30 years of NFL experience shared by the winners of a collective six Super Bowl rings.

That type of interaction between veterans and rookies has become a Steelers tradition over the years.

The most famous recent example is Mike Logan dutifully tutoring Troy Polamalu, even though Logan knew Polamalu had been drafted on the first round in 2003 to eventually take Logan's job.

Smith, Keisel and Hoke were simply doing for Thompson what had been done for them when they first arrived by veterans such as Kimo von Oelhoffen.

It didn't matter that Thompson is a rookie so non-descript that he didn't even have a number to call his own during OTAs (offensive tackle Kyle Jolly shared No. 67 this spring). It's the Steelers' way.

"When I first got here I was a little bit nervous, but being around those guys, they're cool," Thompson said. "They're down-to-earth guys and they want me to get better. They want me to get up to their level.

"I'm just a rookie. All I'm doing is listening, learning, taking notes and getting better."

Thompson, 6-foot-2 and 301 pounds, is distinctive among this year's rookie class in that he played his college ball at Virginia Tech with Steelers No. 2 pick Jason Worilds and free-agent defensive lineman-turned-fullback Demetrius Taylor.

Of Worilds, a 6-foot-2, 262-pound defensive end-turned-outside linebacker "you see what you get," Thompson said. "He's athletic, he does everything. I had fun playing right next to him. Boston College, my junior year, it was my first time starting on the defensive line. I kept getting penalties, jumping offside. He smacked me in the helmet and told me to get my head out of my butt. After that we just disrupted the whole offensive line."

As for Taylor, who packs 273 pounds around his 6-foot frame, "Fullback is a position he likes and he's excited about," Thompson said. "He can do some damage playing there. He looks like a big bowling ball of muscle. He's fast, quick, agile, everything. He'll tell you, he's been moved around to every position in college. He played a little bit of running back and fullback in high school. He's just an athletic guy. You put him anywhere and he'll get the job done to the best of his ability."

Thompson has yet to make such a name for himself. Keisel and the other vets tutoring him regularly after OTA sessions referred to Thompson only as "Taco." Keisel even claimed not to know Thompson's actual name.

"Everybody in college used to call me that," Thompson said. "My name is Cordarrow. A teammate said it sounded like something you get at Taco Bell. At Virginia Tech, coaches, Frank Beamer, everybody, called me ‘Taco.'

"And then when I got here Mike Tomlin called me ‘Taco' and it spread around to everybody. I'm used to it. I'm stuck with it."


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