Steelers’ Bailey making his mark
Third-year Steelers defensive end Rodney Bailey has gone through two training camps in Latrobe, but he still knows he needs to take adavntage of every opportunity to get better.
“Every day out here in Latrobe is a time for me to get better at every skill I can,” Bailey said. “I’m trying to hit every area. If it’s run stopping, if it’s pass rushing, it’s really important for me to make sure I’m at my best and just play hard. This is really a time for me to grow as a player.”
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Bailey has made an impact on the Steelers defensive line the past two seasons with 12 tackles and 2 sacks as a rookie and 18 tackles, and 5 1/2 sacks last season. This year, he is again backing up veteran Kimo von Oelhoffen, who has been very instrumental in his development as a professional player.
“Kimo takes him under his wing every day and says come here, try this,” defensive coordinator Tim Lewis said. “He gets a lot of tutoring and a lot of mentoring. His only choice is to get better.”
Bailey also benefits from veteran defensive line coach John Mitchell, who is in his ninth season coaching with the Steelers.
“Coach Mitchell is a master,” Bailey said. “He has a lot of great ideas and he knows what he is talking about when it comes to pass rushing and getting off blockers.”
The versatile Bailey enables Mitchell to rotate in fresh linemen when the defense goes to its nickel and dime packages and at the end of games.
“Rodney’s a good football player,” Mitchell said. “He’s probably played more than any other guy we’ve had as a backup and the thing he gives you is he is also a smart guy. He’s strong at the point of attack, he plays the run, and Rodney has improved on his pass-rush technique.”
A former Ohio State Buckeye, Bailey feels fortunate to have so much help making his transition to the professional game.
“I love that tutelage,” Bailey said. “It’s something that has helped mold me.”
The transition to the professional level was more mental than physical for Bailey, who has always been a quick learner.
“This is a mental game,” Bailey said. “There is a lot of film work. The more film you’ll watch, the more it’ll help you.”
He started every game as a true freshman for Ohio State and graduated with a degree in communications in three and half years.
“Things happen so fast on the field,” Bailey said. “You have to go back and watch it in slow motion, sometimes to see where my hand was, or what can I do with this step or how can I fix this angle.”
The Steelers are happy with Bailey’s progress to this point.
“Rodney has a lot of talent. He’s blessed with size, speed, quickness, a lot of the tools that are essential for that position,” Lewis said.
Ready to fill in wherever and whenever he can, Bailey is a great help to the 32-year-old von Oelhoffen, who has been in the league 10 years.
“I’m going to do whatever the team needs me to do,” Bailey said.
“Right now, he’s backing up Kemo and Aaron and he’ll spell them as needed and does a great job with it,” Lewis said. “He comes in and provides a good pass rush for us. We are expecting good things out of him in the future.”