Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called Ryan Mundy's 31-yard interception return for a touchdown Thursday night at Carolina "an exclamation point" that sealed the fate for the second-year safety. While the play punctuated the preseason finale, Mundy believes his body of work helped him make the cut for the 53-man roster of his hometown team. Mundy admits he slept soundly Thursday night.
"I'm just thankful to be in the NFL," Mundy said. "It's even more special that I am playing for the team I grew up watching. I couldn't ask for a better situation, a better fan base, more family support, better teammates, coaching staff and organization as a whole."
The Woodland Hills graduate ? a 2008 sixth-round pick out of West Virginia ? joins backup quarterback Charlie Batch, a Homestead native and Steel Valley graduate, as WPIAL products on the Steelers' 53-man roster.
Center A.Q. Shipley, a seventh-round draft pick from Moon and Penn State, and offensive tackle Jason Capizzi, of Pine-Richland and Indiana (Pa.), did not make the 53-man roster. But Shipley was added to the practice squad Sunday.
That Mundy is a hometown success story matters little to Tomlin, who was more impressed that the 6-foot-1, 209-pounder proved capable of helping the Steelers win Football games with his play on defense and special teams.
"You probably don't want to hear me say this, but I couldn't care less that Ryan's a local guy," Tomlin said. "I like the fact that he's a quality backup safety. It's probably a nice personal note for him, being from here, but we don't care by what means people get here."
That means more to Mundy, who was injured only eight plays into the preseason opener last year, when he suffered a high ankle sprain. The Steelers released him at the end of training camp, then re-signed Mundy Nov. 11 and assigned him to the practice squad. Mundy received a Super Bowl ring, even though he never dressed in uniform for a game.
"I knew I had the talent to make the team," Mundy said. "It was just a matter of staying healthy."
Mundy's play against Carolina left little doubt to whether he would make the team. Along with the interception, he combined with linebacker Arnold Harrison to stop running back DeAngelo Williams for no gain on a fourth-and-1 and broke up a deep pass with a big hit on a receiver.
Upon learning that he survived the cut, Mundy informed his family by sending text messages. The news left Gregory Mundy, who coached his son in youth Football with the West Pittsburgh Steelers , practically speechless.
"Some people are loud, all laughter and joy," Gregory Mundy said. "My reaction is just, wow. It knocks you off your feet. To know he's taken advantage of all the lessons and to say he's a professional Football player, it's truly incredible to me."
Knowing that the family could attend every home game is an added bonus.
"I don't have to travel," Gregory Mundy said. "You can't get any better than 'down the Parkway and make a right.'"
Now, Mundy is looking to make his mark. Starting free safety Ryan Clark is entering the final year of his contract and will be eligible for free agency. Mundy could position himself to become the heir apparent.
Not that he's looking that far ahead.
"I'm not looking at who's ahead of me or what their contract situation is," Ryan Mundy said. "I'm just trying to take care of my part.
"Last year was a roller-coaster ride, but I've never wavered from my goals."
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