Q&A: Arnaz Battle

Arnaz Battle spent seven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers where he caught 178 passes. The Steelers signed him in March and SCI talked to him after one of the recent OTA workouts. Here's the transcript:

Arnaz Battle, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: What do you think of the career shift?

A: To me, it's been a great change. To go from an organization that has so much mystique and so many Super Bowls, and was in a slump, and now I come to an organization that's known for the same thing as well but is in an apparent stage of winning and competing and going out there and winning each year, it's a huge step for me to prolong my career and show I'm still capable of being a playmaker and a team guy.

Q: You were brought in by your special teams coach?

A: Al Everest was in San Francisco with me last year. It was a rough year for me. They brought a lot of young receivers in. They sat down Isaac Bruce and myself to get those young guys in. I turned to a special teams role primarily. It was an adjustment for me. I hadn't done it in years, but Al just appreciated my effort. I love the game and I want to continue to play the game, so I knew that in order to prolong my career I had to embrace that special teams role and go out there and get it done.

Q: Easier said than done?

A: Easier said than done, but like I said I love the game. It's what's going to keep me a Pittsburgh Steeler, a player in this NFL. I have to do what I have to do and I'm willing to do it.

Q: Are you competing with Anthony Madison for the left gunner's job?

A: Yes.

Q: Did they move you ahead of him?

A: After having played in this league for a while, I really don't worry about the depth chart. I think everything takes care of itself. You run around and you do things. You'll find out a lot of guys look good out here, but when the pads come on it's a different ball game.

Q: Were you a gunner in San Francisco?

A: Yes, I was a gunner last year, I did the R5 on kickoff, I did some of the return duties, a little bit of everything, and I think that's what's giving me the opportunity to continue my career. I can play receiver, I can play special teams. I can do a number of things.

Q: But you really want to prove you're a receiver, don't you?

A: Yeah.

Q: I saw you catch a high Byron Leftwich fastball today. What else can you add to make your case for WR?

A: Just making plays. I feel I have great game speed, I run precise routes, I'm a physical guy, I can go across the middle, I'm a smart player. I feel with all of those things coming into one, I can go out there and make plays as a receiver. I know they have a young guy in Mike Wallace. Hines Ward is a veteran who's been here a while. (Antwaan) Randle El is familiar with the system. But I want to get my name into that bunch, too, and show I can continue to play receiver, and when special teams come up I'm going to run down and make the tackle. I want to do it all and be a complete player.

Q: Aren't you 29 years old?

A: Thirty.

Q: Oh, so you're old?

A: (Laughs) One year makes a difference.

Q: Seriously, how do you feel physically at this point in your career?

A: I feel good. I take this one year at a time, and being 30 years old it's a time when players begin their downward slope in their career. I realize that. But I know that I've been taking care of my body and I'm competing. God willing, I know I can play 12, 13 years.

Q: You sound like another guy on this team.

A: Yeah, just like Hines, I hope to continue to bang and do the things that he's done. I know he's taken a great amount of pounding since he's been here as a guy going across the middle and doing a lot of blocking. That's one thing you try to get the young guys to realize: Taking care of your body and having the right nutrition and getting your rest, all of those things come into play when you're hoping to maintain for a long season.

Q: Have you talked to Hines about any of this?

A: No, no, no.

Q: He'd appreciate that, because he's always telling the young guys and he complains when they don't listen.

A: Sometimes you just have bad breaks where things are unpreventable. You can do all the training, all the nutrition, but bad things can happen. It's just part of the game.

Q: When and for how long were you a starting WR in San Francisco?

A: My first year I was just playing special teams. My second year, I started doing returns and played a little receiver; I was like the No. 4. I started my third, fourth and fifth years at receiver. My sixth year I was the No. 3. And last year I took the special teams role, and now I'm here.

Q: You have something to prove, don't you?

A: Yeah.

Q: The media always enjoys getting you well-spoken Notre Dame guys in the locker room. Did the Steelers look into drafting you out of college?

A: Not that I know of. All I knew about Pittsburgh were some of the guys here, like Antonio Bryant, a University of Pitt guy; Troy Edwards, the former first-rounder, he's from my hometown (Shreveport, La.); and I played with Cedrick Wilson out there in San Francisco.

Q: They seem to like former college quarterbacks here. You once quarterbacked Notre Dame. Are you hoping to throw any passes out of gimmick plays?

A: You never know. I know Randle El did that in college, and Hines Ward. I think it plays into our favor come game time.

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