By John Harris
Monday, May 14, 2007
3400 South Water Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Welcome to Pittsburgh.
Some welcome, huh?
You injure your groin within the first hour in the first practice of your first NFL minicamp. You miss the remainder of camp.
I know you have a reputation for being a gamer, a player who comes to play when the whistle blows and the TV cameras are on, but this is ridiculous.
Lawrence, you needed to be on the field.
New coach Mike Tomlin wanted to show off his first-ever first-round draft pick, a player he personally endorsed, and here you are standing on the sideline.
I know what you told me Saturday, that you can learn a lot just from observing, but that's my job, young fellow. I'm paid to observe. You're going to be paid to play.
Lawrence, the more that you're on the field, the more times you can flash that quickness and burst to the football that makes you such a dangerous playmaker, the better off that you, and the Steelers, will be.
Being on the field for your first minicamp would also have helped squash those nasty rumors about you not always being in tip-top shape. One of the underlying reasons given for some teams allegedly removing you from their draft boards was a nagging question about your conditioning, given that you appeared winded between drills at your Florida State Pro Day in March.
I know, I know. Anybody can injure their groin. It was a fluke accident, right? But not everybody is the Steelers' top draft pick, who was personally endorsed by the new head coach who just happened to replace Bill Cowher. Not to mention, the new coach who already has his plate full because of the Alan Faneca situation, who doesn't have time to worry about whether those nasty rumors about his top draft pick not always being in tip-top shape are true.
Anybody who's seen you in close quarters knows that you're built a lot like New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma, compact but powerful. You have all the physical attributes required to be an impact linebacker in the NFL.
L.T. -- you don't mind if I call you L.T., do you? -- you have your whole career ahead of you. You turn 21 today -- happy birthday, by the way. You have the full support of the front office and coaching staff.
What you don't have right now is a true understanding for what it takes to be a pro.
L.T., talent can take you only so far. The NFL is as much mental as it is physical.
Coming to the Steelers is a good thing because you have veterans such as James Farrior, Clark Haggans, Larry Foote and James Harrison who can show you the way. They're proven winners who have dedicated their minds and bodies to being the best football players they can be.
Listen to everything they tell you. Do what they do. You may have more physical ability than any of them, but how many of them can you outwork?
L.T., this isn't a criticism as much as it is a commentary about how much you can accomplish with the proper mind-set. You have untapped physical potential. That's why the Steelers made you the No. 15 pick in the draft, even though you started only one season at FSU.
You were drafted for what the Steelers believe you can do.
That's why seeing you on the sideline instead of on the field during minicamp was troublesome.
With so much to give, we saw so little from you.
Can't wait to see you at training camp.