Guard Kendall Simmons has been using the voluntary off-season program for all of the same things his teammates are – preparing for mini-camps, training camp and the season, getting in shape and getting to know the new coaches.
But he isn't stopping there. He is using the time to get some work at the center position, taking time at the end of each workout to practice snaps and other tricks of the trade that are key for that spot.
"Every day I have been here I have done a little bit," said Simmons. "It's one of those things where if I am going to do it, I want to be able to do it and be progressively better instead of doing it for a couple of weeks and stopping. I feel like I can't get good at it if I do that."
Simmons is working at center as a result of Jeff Hartings retiring at the end of last season. While the Steelers signed free agent Sean Mahan, who can play center or guard, and back-up Chukky Okobi will be returning, Simmons name has been thrown in the hat to play the position and he plans on being prepared if his name is called.
"It is something I want to try," said Simmons. "It's a new challenge. Any athlete who is willing to get better will try to step up to the challenge. It's something I think I can do. Coaches have said it would help slow me down. I move too fast. They would say I am a bull in a china shop sometimes and playing center would help me because it would slow me down."
One of the benefits that Simmons feels he would get by that slow down is taking advantage of snapping the ball and moving instead of the risk of jumping offside because he is trying to move too fast. But while there will be advantages there are also some adjustments that will have to be made.
"It's a different world. You can't be claustrophobic in there," said Simmons. "Coming in my rookie year going from tackle to guard, you are in between somebody. You are in a box so I had to get used to that again. Now you are going from guard to center and it's like everyone is right there on you.
"You have to get used to snapping the ball, snapping and moving at the same time. It's really different. But I think if you give me a year I feel like I can excel at it if I had to be moved there permanently."
Despite his preparation, Simmons honestly does know if he will even take a snap at center this year. As of right now, he sees himself staying put on the line, but being ready and willing to move if needed.
"I see myself as the starting right guard with back-up center capabilities," said Simmons. "That's where I want to get. I don't know what's going to happen with it to be honest.
"Right now I don't know much about the whole thing competing for the spot. I want to be good enough that if something happens to Sean or Chukky, I can fill in and there won't be a fall off. That's where I want to be too."
No matter who plays center, though, it will be a big change for the entire line. A change on the offensive line can have an impact on the chemistry and there will be an adjustment period.
"It changes it big time," said Simmons. "You get so used to being with one guy for so long. Chukky has been in there and has played. I don't know a lot about Sean yet. You are going to have to build chemistry with him and learn how he likes to do things and where he is going to be. You have to feel it out. It's going to be a big difference. I know Chukky a little bit and how he likes to do things, so it won't be that bad. But with Sean it would make a difference."