Steelers Rookie Working Through Frustrating First Days

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Troy Fautanu admitted his first couple practices in the NFL have been frustrating.
Mar 3, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington offensive lineman Troy Fautanu (OL19) during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 3, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington offensive lineman Troy Fautanu (OL19) during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers felt they got a steal when they landed Troy Fautanu with the 20th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. He was the complement to 2023 first-round pick, Broderick Jones - another rookie starter that'd build the foundation of a bruising offensive line for years to come.

But the beginning of Organized Team Activities for the Steelers has thrown some cold water on the notion that Fautanu was able to step right into the starting lineup. It took just one practice for Fautanu to see how far he still has to go before he's ready to be a starter in the NFL.

"My first impression of practice yesterday was that it's a lot different than college," Fautaunu said. "Just the adjustment to the speed, especially the guys on the edge - yeah, yesterday was a rough one but today was better."

The Steelers' latest first-round pick said his first day of playing with the big boys was "frustrating" but that the veterans around him picked him up. He got some patient advice from returners like Dan Moore Jr., Broderick Jones and Isaac Seumalo, who have been active helping him make the transition to professional football.

"That's what I'm hearing a lot from the guys is just to find something to get better at and I emphasized that today. ... I'm learning a lot from these guys - Dan, Broderick, everybody. Isaac as well. They're all taking me under their wing and helping me out," Fautanu said. "I was very frustrated after yesterday's practice. There was a lot I felt like I could have done better, but them telling me to trust the process and that every day is going get better as long as I work."

There's an open debate about where exactly Fautanu fits into the Steelers' short-term plans. Which side he will play on and when he'll do so depends on what Moore can show coaches over the next few months, but Fautanu's progress is essential to that equation as well.

For now though, Fautanu is not allowing himself to think too far ahead. The name of the game is personal development for him during OTAs and he's leaning on the Steelers' veterans to help him do that.

"I still have to do some rookie things like filling up the refrigerator and stuff like that but they're not chucking me off to the side and telling me to figure it out myself," Fautanu said. "These guys all have great advice because they've been in the league for a while."

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Stephen Thompson


Stephen Thompson graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications and political science from Pitt in April 2022 after spending four years as a sports writer and editor at The Pitt News, the University of Pittsburgh's independent, student-run newspaper. He primarily worked the Pitt men's basketball beat, and filled in on coverage of football, volleyball, softball, gymnastics and lacrosse, in addition to other sports as needed. His work at The Pitt News has won awards from the Pennsylvania News Media Association and Associated College Press. During the spring and summer of 2021, Stephen interned for Pittsburgh Sports Now, covering baseball in western Pennsylvania. Hailing from Washington D.C., family ties have cultivated a love of Boston's professional teams and Pitt athletics, and a fascination with sports in general.