Ever since Robert Golden entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he dreamed of opening the season as a starter with the team.
Sure, that was a pretty tough goal at first, playing behind Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. Golden was OK with that because he knew he could learn from them and get better.
Now the wait is over.
The former Edison High star will start the season as a starter at strong safety when the Steelers visit the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.
It’s something I always envisioned myself being able to do.
Former Edison High star Robert Golden on beginning the season as a starter
“Going to be filled with emotions and it’s a blessing for me to be able to go out there and do what I love doing,” Golden said. “It’s kind of like a dream come true, being in the National Football League, let alone being a starter … it’s something I always envisioned myself being able to do. I’m happy that I got the opportunity and can’t wait to get the season started.”
Golden has three career starts – all last season, with the first coming in Week 6.
Heading into the season, Golden will have his dad on his mind. Danny Golden, 57, passed away in his sleep in July.
“My dad was my guy,” Golden said. “I always kept him updated with the whole football thing. It was a dream come true for him as well to see me playing in the NFL. Losing him was definitely hard for me and still hard for me. He was very proud before he left.
“It’s kind of like my motivation for me to keep going. ... I just want to go out there and continue to to make him proud. I have a family to take care of and it was a heavy heart for me going into camp and still is, but I have responsibilities now and want to continue to make my dad proud.”
Golden will still see some time on special teams, as he was voted the team captain for that position. He took pride playing on special teams before.
“I come to work and take this thing seriously,” Golden said. “When I am out there on the field, I try to get the team enthusiastic and give the coaches what they want and uphold the standard.”
He did so even when Steelers coach Mike Tomlin delivered a message to Golden, saying the team would draft a safety. They did in safety Sean Davis in the second round, but that didn’t stop Golden from re-signing with the team.
“Basically he told me the role that I have to play if I was going to come back,” Golden said. “He told me to take the role as a leader and show the younger guys the ropes like the older guys did for me. I came in this offseason willing to work.
“My first two or three years were definitely a blessing to sit back and learn from Polamulu. Also good learning from Ryan Clark –being able to sit behind those two veteran guys definitely helped me. I’m just ready to get out there and help this team win games and do what I need to do to get this team a championship.”
Also starting – Entering just their second seasons, former Fresno State standouts defensive tackle Tyeler Davison of the New Orleans Saints and offensive lineman Cody Wichmann of the Los Angeles Rams will begin the season as starters.
The Saints host Derek Carr and the Raiders on Sunday and the Rams travel to face the San Francisco 49ers on Monday.
Et cetera – A couple of former Fresno State standouts were signed to 10-man practice squads: cornerback Curtis Riley with the Tennessee Titans and defensive back Charles Washington with the Detroit Lions.
▪ Several former Fresno State standouts were waived: offensive tackle Bryce Harris (Atlanta), linebacker Kyrie Wilson (Oakland), linebacker Ejiro Ederaine (Washington), punter Garrett Swanson (Arizona), tight end Bear Pascoe (New England) and linebacker Tristan Okpalaugo (Arizona).