Versatility a key to rising above the crowd for Steelers' Garvin

For some players, training camp is about proving your worth. With so many position battles needing resolution, it pays to be a standout and versatile.

For example, the Steelers’ training-camp roster is loaded with linebackers, and that put added pressure on former West Virginia University star Terrence Garvin.

First-round pick Ryan Shazier is expected to start on the inside as a rookie, and the Steelers also selected UCLA’s Jordan Zumwalt in the sixth round.

There are also higher expectations for Jarvis Jones, the Steelers’ first-round pick last year, and veteran Lawrence Timmons is expected to perform at a high level.

Battling in the background is Arthur Moats, signed in the offseason after playing for the Buffalo Bills, and Sean Spence, finally healthy after a devastating knee injury.

Vince Williams and Chris Carter also will compete for playing time.

And then there is Garvin, who hopes his versatility and big hits will make a lasting impression. Garvin signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent last season, played in 15 games and started one.

He made most of his contributions on special teams, including nine tackles. A monstrous block on Cincinnati’s Kevin Huber broke the Bengals punter’s jaw. On defense, he made 11 solo tackles.

This season, he’ll look to enhance his contributions on defense and special teams.

Garvin stands 6 feet 4, weighs 221 pounds and is embracing the role of being a well-rounded player. He’s learning the ropes of both inside and outside linebacker as well as special-teams chores.

“It’s kind of like you try to learn the whole defense, really,” Garvin said Wednesday. “That’s just what I’m trying to do, learn everything. It’s difficult, but, at the same time, it’s helpful because you learn a little bit about what everyone’s got to do.”

Garvin made some noise last season and earned praise from linebacker’s coach Keith Butler. Garvin also is leaning on former Steelers linebacker and current assistant Joey Porter for advice.

“It’s cool, I like it [working with Porter], he’s somebody you can talk to, somebody who can relate because he played out here, he’s been in our shoes before,” Garvin said. “I really like being [coached] by him, being around him, and being able to talk to him.”

Garvin’s size doesn’t scream linebacker, but his quickness makes up for it. He made several plays close to the line of scrimmage in practice Wednesday and seems to improve almost daily while leaving a mark as a big-time-hitter.

“You just got to do a lot of different things,” he said. “Coach [Mike] Tomlin always says, ‘The more you can do makes you more valuable.’

“I like being able to do a lot of different things. I feel like you’re always fighting,” Garvin said. “That’s kind of how it is being up here in the NFL. Even in college, you’re always fighting for a position. It’s kind of the same mentality, same mind-set, always fighting, making a little impact.”

Ryan Petrovich: or Twitter: @RyanPetrovich.

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