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Rookie Steelers NT Ta'amu finds a natural mentor in Polamalu

PITTSBURGH -- Alameda Ta'amu's "welcome to the NFL" moment didn't come when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected the massive nose tackle in the fourth round of last week's draft.

Instead it came a little later when All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu -- who like Ta'amu is of Samoan heritage -- buzzed the rookie's cell phone.

"When he called me, I didn't think it was really him," Ta'amu said with a laugh. "But then you know his voice from those Head & Shoulders commercials. I was talking to him and it was crazy."

Polamalu offered Ta'amu a sounding board and someone to lean on as he gets acclimated to life as a professional. As mentors go, Ta'amu could do a lot worse.

The pep talk helped calm Ta'amu's nerves before he joined 39 other newcomers for the team's rookie minicamp this weekend. Sweat beading on his ample forehead, Ta'amu just smiled when asked what it's like to go from college kid to NFL player in six days.

"I was worried that I'd come here and start hitting and it would feel different," Ta'amu said. "I feel pretty good. I feel in football shape."

There are no real teachers at the ready for first-round pick David DeCastro. The All-American guard from Stanford will step in right away to help shore up a sometimes leaky offensive line.

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It's a task DeCastro is eager to undertake. He acknowledged going through a bit of football withdrawal the last couple months as his former teammates went through spring drills.

The Steelers wasted little time putting him back to work, throwing him in at right guard during practice, which DeCastro described with a laugh as "running around in our underwear."

DeCastro's roommate -- second-round pick Mike Adams -- does not. The All-Big Ten offensive lineman at Ohio State will likely start his career as a reserve at either tackle spot, though he prefers to play on the left side.

It's where Adams lined up on his first day as a professional for the team that he adored as a kid. He grew up with a Jerome Bettis lamp and black and gold sheets in his bedroom.

"It's definitely a little bit surreal," Adams said. "But it's starting to become a real thing for me. ... It's just great to be a Pittsburgh Steeler."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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