Ohio State grad eyes final shot at NFL with Steelers
Donald Washington views time as an illusion.
If you are a soon-to-be 30-year-old cornerback invited to Steelers rookie minicamp on a tryout, that is probably best.
“Once you lose track of time and stay focused on your dream, you kind of forget the time that has gone past,” Washington said.
It has been a while since Washington (6-foot, 197 pounds) got an opportunity to play in the NFL. He is hoping it is worth the wait.
The Steelers on Sunday will wrap up their three-day rookie minicamp that included 56 players, 22 of whom are in on tryouts. Washington is hoping he will be one of the few who have maneuvered their way onto the 90-man roster.
“I am going to leave it out there and see what they do,” Washington said. “I am having the time of my life, man. The main key is to have fun and run around and have a good attitude and a good effort. Any chance I can get to play football, I want it, no matter where it is at. I just love the game and love being around the guys. No matter how the opportunity comes, I am taking it.”
In two of the past three years, the Steelers have signed to their 90-man roster players who tried out during rookie minicamp. In 2013, they added linebacker Terence Garvin, who went on to play three years before signing a free agent deal with the Washington Redskins in March. Last year, they signed running back Cameron Stingily and defensive lineman Mike Thornton.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin kept an eye on Washington through the first two days of minicamp.
“I expect his experience just in general in his professional game to show up,” Tomlin said.
Washington has as good a chance as anyone to get a call Monday saying he made the roster.
The Steelers could use all the veteran help they can get at cornerback. They drafted Artie Burns in the first round and get back last year’s second-rounder, Senquez Golson, who missed all last season because of a shoulder injury, but they lack experience. Besides incumbent starter William Gay, their most experienced cornerback is Isaiah Frey, with just more than 700 career snaps.
Washington was a fourth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009 and played four years at safety. He played in 32 games and started five in three years before joining Toronto of the Canadian Football League and then Hamilton and switching back to cornerback.
In between Kansas City and the CFL, Washington spent two years out of the game, with only a minicamp in Seattle in 2013 to show for it. The Steelers called him for a tryout and were interested in him playing cornerback, the same position he played at Ohio State.
“The more you can do, the longer that you can kind of hang around,” Washington said. “I kind of take it as a compliment. They can see me as an either/or. I have played all over the secondary, so I am not uncomfortable anywhere.”
Even if this is his last shot at the NFL, Washington said he never will give up his dream.
“Anything you are passionate about you shouldn’t give up,” he said. “They will probably have to break all my limbs to say I am done.”