Bryant McFadden was the team's hit of spring, now can he resume his successful showing with the pads on in the heat of August?
Pittsburgh's second-round draft choice can make a bid for a starting cornerback job, where the seat was kept warm in the second half of the season by Willie Williams. At the time, Williams was a godsend and helped solidify a young secondary after Chad Scott was lost at midseason with an injury. But at 34, Williams won't be there for long and McFadden is seen as the top candidate for his job.
"He is the type of corner we look for to succeed in the type of system we play," said secondary coach Darren Perry. "He is going to tackle, he is going to cover and he is a sound football player."
Unlike 2004 second-round pick, cornerback Ricardo Colclough of tiny Tusculum, McFadden honed his skills at one of the best football programs in the country, Florida State, and his experience and skills should be enough to allow him to start as a rookie.
"He is going to fit what we do because he is an aggressive kid," said Kevin Colbert, Pittsburgh's director of football operations.
McFadden displayed that aggressiveness in spring drills, on several occasions hitting opposing receivers, a no-no that nevertheless put some smiles on his coaches.
"We will see how it unfolds," coach Bill Cowher said. "I know he is a smart kid. I know how he plays. He fits what we like to do and he has played at a high level. He has been exposed to a lot of good players."
McFadden is 5-11, 190 and was regarded among the best cover corners in college, a rating ironically upheld by the fact he had only one interception the past two seasons because offenses did not throw his way.
"I didn't have a lot of opportunities to make a lot of picks," McFadden said. "That's just something that kind of frustrated me at times, but I kind of took it as a plus that teams actually thought I was doing some good things out there on the field."