Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement of the NFL, it places limits on all 32 team’s offseason programs, and yesterday began Phase One, which per NFL policy, only allows players to entertain strength and/or cardiovascular exercises. Regardless if the players were meeting up for a film session or even to play checkers, one thing was apparent in the overall mood, and that was it’s good to be back.
After advancing to the playoffs last season after a two-year hiatus, the team is hungry for more, although it will have to begin the season minus All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell. It’s also noteworthy that the team has the most difficult schedule in the league, according the their opponent’s 2014 records.
“We are pushing each other more, holding each other accountable,” Beachum said. “We know what we did last year. We know what we want to get this year. It’s good to be back and have everyone on the same page and everybody working towards the same goal and direction.”
For players such as Dri Archer and Daniel McCullers, they didn’t have the chance at a full offseason with their teams last year, as they were going through a chaotic time leading up to the draft with visits and such, so this is invaluable to them.
“It’s always good when you get a year under your belt, you know what you are doing, what to expect when you come in,” Archer said. “The offseason you have the chance to work harder, get better, and come in here and get an early start with the other guys. The atmosphere here in Pittsburgh is always about business so it’s time to get back to work.”
Meanwhile, a lot of the vets know what’s expected, and have actually been putting in work in the weight room on their own since the season ended.
“Everyone knows the first part is showing part, but the other part is being ready to go,” defensive leader Cameron Heyward said. “As a team we have all taken that approach so we are not playing catch up when everyone is here.”
A common theme of this off-season seems to be “unfinished business” as the playoff loss to Baltimore left a bitter taste in the players’ mouths, and not much room for complacency.
“We understand you can’t be satisfied in this business,” Heyward said. “You have to get better every time you get on the field. We were 11-5 last year, but we are not there yet. We want to start off better this year. It’s good to get as many guys in here as possible.”
With a defense in transition, Heyward is a building block of the team and looks to get an extension soon. He will be looked upon for leadership, especially in regards to taking fellow-defensive end and newly-anointed starter, Stephon Tuitt, under his wing.
“We need to all become closer as a team,” Heyward said. Whoever is here we are going to have a chance to get better.”
With the draft only a week away, and something with some substance in regards to football actually occurring, it’s a great feeling, not only for fans but players as well.
“It’s definitely good to be back,” Markus Wheaton said. “It’s like coming back to school. I am glad to be in Pittsburgh. I am excited for football.”