Mark Barron wants to bring a seventh Super Bowl to the Steelers.
Sure, every team sets its sights that high at this time of year, but for Barron, the feeling is especially powerful. All the guy does is win in the biggest games at every level. He won a high school Class 5A state championship in Alabama playing for St. Paul's Episcopal School. He won two BCS National Championships at Alabama (2009, 2011).
Last year, as a member of the Rams, Barron played in Super Bowl LIII — only this time, he didn't win. And now he wants his mulligan:
Even in defeat, Barron says there are lessons to be learned from appearing in the Super Bowl. With so many fresh, young faces on the Steelers roster for 2019, he looks forward to sharing them all.
"I can give guidance about whatever's needed, playing in big-game situations, how to calm your nerves, how detailed you need to be and how focused you need to be when that time comes," Barron told me at the Rooney Complex after Day 3 of Steelers OTAs. "And really, you need to be that way all the time, but of course it's amped-up when it's a bigger game."
Among those newcomers Barron will influence is Devin Bush, who the Steelers moved up 10 positions in the 2019 Draft to select at No. 10 overall. While many rookies take a year to learn and develop, Bush is expected to contribute in some form in Year 1. He's on the field with the first team for some reps during OTAs, he's calling plays and he's making reads and adjustments on the field.
Interestingly, Bush and Barron share similar skill sets and strengths, something that could put them in competition for playing time, depending on the defensive scheme. But Barron feels neither tension nor a need to compete with Bush. To him, it's an opportunity to teach — and to learn from — a young player he expects to be great.
"[Bush is] a good, young talent," Barron said. "I knew that as soon as we picked him up. I'm excited to work with him. I always feel like great players bring out the best in each other, so just getting to work with each other and bringing the best out of each other, I think that will be good for the team as a whole."
That ethos — teamwork over tension — permeates the locker room. From newly signed cornerback Steven Nelson saying he already feels "good chemistry" with the team to veteran leaders such as Cam Heyward and Ramon Foster saying the same, there's a sense of unity among this group of Steelers.
Barron feels it, too.
"I felt that vibe as soon as I walked in, even just in the locker room before we got on the field," Barron said. "Everybody's super energetic. I don't know if it's been that way or if that's something new or what, but I felt that energy as soon as I got here."
Where that energy comes from, though, Barron can't say.
"I honestly don't know exactly what everybody's thinking, but everybody's got something to prove," Barron said. "Every time you step on the field, you got something to prove. If you want to be great and you want to win — we didn't win the Super Bowl last year. This team didn't win the Super Bowl. Everybody's got something to prove."
For Barron, the first step to proving his worth involves digesting the Steelers' system and the team's processes. That's the foundation for everything that follows on the field.
"It's a process," Barron said. "Any time you step into a new organization, a new team, a new defensive scheme, it's a process, but everything's been good so far. No complaints. I like everything that's going on right now."
So far, that's going well for him, to say the least.
"I wouldn't call it 'challenges,'" Barron said. "Like I said, it's just a process, man. Any time you step into a new defensive scheme, there's going to be a lot of different things going on, different terminology. They're probably going to do some things a little different, so it's just a process, a learning curve."
Hear who's helping Barron with that learning curve and much more in our full video from the Rooney Complex:
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