Steelers notebook: WR switches from AFL to NFL

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Just a few days ago, receiver James Shaw was finishing his first full season with the Power of the Arena Football League. After playing a 19-game and nearly five-month season that ended Sunday with a loss in the first round of the playoffs, it looked like his football season was at an end.

Instead, Shaw received a call from the Steelers Monday and he was in an NFL camp Tuesday.

There is no rest for the weary.

“I had a long season,” Shaw said. “It feels good knowing that I’m already in shape, don’t have to worry about being dog-tired coming into this preseason.”

This is Shaw’s second attempt to make an NFL roster in as many years. The Carolina Panthers brought him in for the preseason as an undrafted rookie in 2013. He eventually joined Carolina’s practice squad when the regular season started.

Shaw mainly offers the Steelers another receiver to get through the remainder of the preseason. The team waived injured receiver Danny Coale to make room for him on the 90-man roster.

Shaw caught 21 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns with the Power this season and had 69 catches for 815 yards and eight touchdowns in three years of college at Jacksonville State. But he was more of a threat on the Power’s special teams, averaging 19.7 yards per return.

“I’m willing to do whatever I can do to get on the field,” he said. “Returning would be a big thing for me. I can do it, I just need the opportunity. As far as running down on kickoffs, I’m able to do that, too.”

Speed inside

With Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier slated to handle the starting duties at inside linebacker this season, the Steelers are poised to have their quickest linebacking crew in recent years.

While Timmons can’t match Shazier’s 4.4 40-yard dash speed, his athleticism has allowed him to excel at every linebacker position in recent seasons.

“We had some injury problems, this is a couple of years ago, and he went to outside and did a great job for us outside,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “He played the inside in the third-down defense and, when we had a problem with the strong side, he went to the strong side. He’s a very versatile guy.”

“We’re going to be fast at the inside backers.”

Along with Shazier and Timmons, outside linebackers Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones add speed to a corps that in the past featured Lamar Woodley and James Harrison.

Quick hits

Nose tackle Steve McLendon missed his third consecutive practice for what coach Mike Tomlin called a concussion. … Shazier sat out a second day of training camp after hurting his knee Monday, an injury Tomlin called “a boo boo.” … Jones was in uniform, but did not practice. ... Veteran receiver Lance Moore did not participate in team drills.


Alex Nieves: anieves@post-gazette.com and Twitter @alexdnieves5.

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