Q&A WITH James Conner by Rimoni Dorsey
James Conner – Running Back – Pittsburgh Steelers
Q: From your last day at Pitt to now, can you describe what you life has been like?
James Conner: Just hectic. After my last day with Pitt, I went straight out to California to start my training for the combine. Right after the combine, I came back to Pittsburgh for pro day. After the pro day, it was the NFL Draft. So for me it has just been a lot of working out and excitement, leading up to where I am now, which is working out and practicing for the Steelers. It has been a lot of hard work but it has all been fun.
Q: Specifically, what was the NFL Combine and NFL Draft experience like for you?
JC: It was a dream come true, turning my dreams into reality. From getting the phone call, you see the whole process growing up, so it was a good time. I was in Erie with friends and family (for the NFL Draft) and for them to be there and witness me getting drafted was a special moment.
Q: How did it feel walking out for you first day of practice in Steelers gear?
JC: It was…real. Putting that helmet on and putting the jersey on seeing a different logo other than the Pitt Script was weird, but I’m happy to still be in the city of Pittsburgh. It was truly amazing finally being a Steeler, putting on that black and gold was dope (smiling).
Q: Were you nervous at all for that first day of practice?
JC: I wasn’t really too nervous because I’m comfortable in the city and just being so close to some of the guys out there for so long made it better, so I wasn’t nervous. But I was definitely anxious to get out there and show them what I got, but not too many nerves.
Q: How does it feel being able to learn from Le’Veon Bell, one of the best running backs in the NFL?
JC: Le’Veon is obviously a monster and it is nice that he is our star running back. So I can learn from him, pick his brain and try to imitate some of the things he does right to improve my knowledge and skills.
Q: What made you choose No. 30 as your number with the Steelers?
JC: Dirty 30 (laughing). With that being my high school number, which was when everything started for me realizing I could play at a high level, it was a no-brainer for me to go back to No. 30.
Q: What has been the biggest transition for you in becoming an NFL player?
JC: You have to sort of go with the flow; the speed of everything changes. Your playbook and everything changes, so you have to be more aware and ready to learn—all open ears. So just learning and picking things up comes with time.
Q: Do you know what your role with the Steelers will be this season?
JC: My role is to contribute. Whenever they call No. 30, just to be ready for them. I don’t know when that is, but I will probably be on special teams. The end goal is to get a championship. They drafted me for a reason; so when they call 30, I will be ready to go.
Q: Several other former Panthers signed with the Steelers. How has it been working with those guys?
JC: It’s nice, knowing they are comfortable seeing me out there and I'm comfortable with seeing them out there. And already having great relationships with them is great especially when things get tough those are the guys I can trust and I can turn and talk to. It’s nice having them with me at the next level.
Q&A WITH Nathan Peterman by Rimoni Dorsey
Nathan Peterman – Quarterback – Buffalo Bills
Q: What was the NFL Draft experience like for you?
Nathan Peterman: It was crazy. It was definitely emotional, getting the call and getting to celebrate with my family. When you get your named called on TV, it is a crazy experience. I’m thankful and just really blessed.
Q: How was the experience at John Gruden’s QB Camp? Why do you think he liked you so much?
NP: It was definitely another dream come true to be on that show. I used to watch it as a kid. As for why he liked me…I wish I knew (laughing). I really just tried to go out there and be myself. That’s the advice so many people told me, especially Coach Narduzzi. I remember him texting me beforehand and really before the draft, senior bowl, combine, pro day, everything—and the message was always “be yourself.” Coach Gruden’s show was a preview of what was to come in the NFL. I have just been really thankful for these experiences and look forward for more to come.
Q: How has it been learning the Bills’ offense? Did adapting to different offensive systems during your college career help prepare you for that process?
NP: For sure. I think it helps, especially in the last year when I had to learn a new offense. In terms of having to install a lot of things and picking it all up quickly, it is hard to compare for the volume they let you get in NFL. You get a lot more plays in a shorter amount of time that you need to pick up quickly. Right now it’s been a grind, but it has been fun and definitely educational.
Q: How is the chemistry coming along with you and the weapons you have on offense?
NP: It has been good. I would say the biggest connection so far has been with the rookies because we’ve spent so much time together. Overall, it has been really good for me. All the rookies are trying to get to know the guys on the team but also really just trying to fit into the team right now. I’m trying to earn my spot right now. So I’m still taking it one step at a time.
Q: Have you talked to former star Pitt running back LeSean McCoy yet?
NP: LeSean has been a pretty cool connection. He was actually the first to come find me the first day I was there. We definitely had the Pitt connection from the start and talked about everything and how he watched all the games this season. I think that is very helpful for me to be able to have a veteran like him, who is such a very successful guy, looking to help me.
Q: What have you learned about you new hometown?
NP: As far as food, I’m still sampling a few places right now. Obviously wings are big up here, so I’m still trying to get used to finding a couple good spots. We got to go to Niagara Falls, and took a rookie tour around, got to see the New Era corporate headquarters here. So we got to see Buffalo a little bit, and I’ve been enjoying it. The stadium and facilities here are nice, and I’m sort of in the suburbs too, which I’m a big fan of. The little time we get off from football, it is nice to be able to enjoy it with the other other rookies.
Q: Do you think Pittsburgh has prepared you for the weather conditions ahead of you?
A: Absolutely (laughing). Everyone that I talk to here, they all kind of joke about it, telling me about the weather. But then I tell them I’m from Pittsburgh, and they say, “okay you’ll be alright.” But it does snow more here because of the lake effect, but at least I’ve been through that cold. Pittsburgh definitely toughened me up for that.
Q&A WITH Ejuan Price by Rimoni Dorsey
Ejuan Price – Linebacker – Los Angeles Rams
Q: What was the process like preparing for the NFL Draft?
Ejuan Price: The preparation started right away, as soon as we finished with the bowl. I was gone two weeks later on my way to Florida to start my training. Everything was an eye-opener, a good experience that you have to just take it all in. There is a lot of stuff happening for the first time. You just have to look down at your feet and enjoy the ride. We received a lot of free gear; that was another good part (laughing).
Q: What was your favorite moment of the entire process?
EP: Now that I’m looking back at it, definitely getting drafted. Even though I didn’t get drafted where
I wanted to, I was extremely grateful that the Rams selected me. But I still have a competitive nature; I felt like maybe I should have went earlier because of the type of production I had. But now looking back on it, a couple weeks removed, I’m thankful that after all the work I put in, that my name was called. No matter where I was picked, I still got picked.
Q: How has the practices been? How do you think you have been performing?
EP: I think I’ve been doing good. The only thing we really have done so far was rookie minicamp, which was a three-practice event, so recently we've been real light, just individuals and walkthroughs. I think after rookie minicamp, I definitely think I belong; I was productive in that. I'm just working every day, putting my best foot forward.
Q: Do you know what your role will be this year for the Rams?
EP: Not quite yet. I’m actually playing Will linebacker, so no more hands. At this point, I’m trying to find where I fit in. We have a really good front seven. Wherever they can use me at, whether that being special teams or anything, I’m just trying to be a part of the team by making the roster.
Q: How does it feel to be back with Aaron Donald and Nicholas “Freeze” Grigsby?
EP: It feels good…regular…like no time was lost within the years. Those are my boys, so we will always be cool. We’re working towards the same goal. They are in a different position than I am just because they have some years in. I’m just trying to see their schedule, see how they move about and just follow their lead and get my foot in.
Q: What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed between college football and the NFL?
EP: How seriously everyone takes their work, especially the vets. Everything they do on the field is about trying to get better. There is no slacking in any position. Every guy is working with a purpose. Even if it is walkthrough, they are taking their proper steps, flipping their hips. There is no slacking mentally or physically. In college, players don’t always know what they are doing. One thing I’ve noticed with the Rams is that everyone knows 100 percent what to do and what is going on.
Q: How’s that southern California weather treating you so far?
EP: One thing about Cali that I’ve learned so far is every day is sunny. There really aren’t any clouds in the sky. It’s never super hot, usually ranging from 75 to 79, but the sun is always out; it is just right. That is definitely dope; I can definitely get used to that. I’m enjoying not having to deal with cold weather for the time being. I will try and come back to Pittsburgh as much as I can, because that is where my family is at, so that will always make it home.
Q: What else have you learned about your new city so far?
EP: We really haven’t had any days off other than Sunday, and I take that day to relax. This week will probably be the week we get to do something. So I haven't learned much yet. For real, I don’t know much about California geography yet (laughs)—how far is it from this point to that point. All I do is get on the shuttle. I will definitely go sightseeing when I get a chance. I have a couple places in mind. I’ll probably have Freeze come pick me up and we’ll go explore L.A.
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