Layne picking up defense, picking off passes


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Justin Layne – MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Justin Layne's day at the Rooney Complex read like a Dr. Seuss book for jocks.

One pick, two pick, live-action pick, drill pick.

Layne was all over the field, disrupting passes and doing what the Steelers need so desperately from their secondary: generating interceptions. And while the day marked Layne's best work of OTAs, he remained self-critical and humble afterward.

"I'm just trying to get better out there for the most part," Layne was telling me at the Rooney Complex when I brought up his performance. "I had some errors today, but I also made some plays. So I'm just trying to get in shape and try to adapt to the new system and everything."

Part of this humility comes from the fact that adjusting to the pro level is, well... hard. I asked him about that transition, and he laid it all out in clear terms:

That said, Layne was quick to add he's making the necessary adjustments. He can feel his repertoire building, and he's excited to continue to develop his skills within the Steelers' system.

"I feel like I'm getting there," Layne said. "It's like as soon as I started getting something down pat, we're adding something else. But that's just part of the game. I still got a long way to go, but I think I'm doing pretty good so far."

Helping Layne along the way is Joe Haden, a 10-year NFL veteran entering his third season with the Steelers. Learning from Haden, a two-time Pro Bowler who led the Steelers with two interceptions last season, provides Layne with an invaluable experience.

"[Working with Haden's] been great," Layne said. "Everybody's unselfish. Everybody's trying to help each other, help the younger guys. It's been great."

That mentorship role takes two forms: Sometimes, Layne will ask Haden and the other veterans questions directly. Other times, they'll seek him out directly.

"Most of the time, I ask them questions, but they always, if I do something wrong or my eyes are in the wrong spot, they always come pull me aside and say, 'Hey, you need to do that better, do that better,'" Layne said. "They're always giving their little two cents but I just ask a lot of questions for the most part, and everybody is open."

Watch Layne's full session from the Rooney Complex here:

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