LATROBE, Pa. - They have been through 10 days of training camp practices, from shorts and jerseys the first two days to full on pads and all out intensity after that.
And they don’t have a choice but to keep moving in that direction because it all gets real this week when the Steelers open the preseason against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night.
“It’s always good to see what they can do in a game,” said cornerback Will Gay of the rookies. “Saturday will be the first time we see the 2014 Steelers.
“Every day they have to prove on and off the field you are a quality player, a guy that belongs in the NFL. The game is another step. Everybody has something to prove.”
This will be the next step for the rookies to prove they are not just NFL ready, but that they are ready and deserving of putting on a Steelers’ jersey.
“You have to be mentally tough, physically tough and be prideful about what you are doing,” said Gay. “You are wearing that uniform for a lot of people and you have to know that.”
Several of the Steelers rookies weighed in on how camp is progressing, getting ready for the game, and what it means to wear the Steelers’ uniform.
On getting ready for his first NFL game: “I am pretty excited, the first NFL game of my career. I want make a good impression and have some quality reps. I have to work hard, do my job, stay sound in my technique and make plays.”
On making an impression: “I will have an opportunity to play. I have to make the most of it. I will play special teams as well. I am looking forward to both. I am adjusting more to special teams. I look forward to being on the field to help any way I can.”
On representing the Steelers’ jersey: “I have been feeling it already. I have been here a couple of months now and I see the intensity, the way the players carry themselves and the expectations they have and I want to fit right in with that.”
On playing the Giants Saturday night in the preseason opener: “I am looking forward to it. I am going to go out and have fun with it and enjoy it. I need to show that I belong, go out and play hard, don’t stress myself out. Just go out and have fun with the game and let everything take care of itself.”
On wearing the Steelers’ jersey for the first time: “It’s going to be emotional because I have come a long way from where I am from. It’s going to be emotional for me. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but at the end of the day I have come out on top.”
On how things speed up in camp vs. OTAs: “It speeds up a lot. Watching film is the biggest thing. We are in there three hours a day looking at film and tape. It’s a lot more physical. Overall we are doing pretty good. When you are a rookie it takes a while to get the system down. I am coming around pretty good. It’s just a play here or there I might mess up. I am watching film and making sure I don’t make the mistake again.”
On areas he is working on: “Using my hands, reading my keys a lot more. I still need to work on my leverage. I am progressing.”
On playing in his first preseason game: “It’s going to be a fun time. We are ready to go, hopefully we get that win. It’s exciting. It might emotional when I get in there. I am excited. It’s the biggest level of football and I am going to do my best. I just have to do my job. If you do your job, you will get recognized.”
On wearing the Steelers’ jersey for the first time: “It’s going to be crazy. It’s a huge honor. It’s a great tradition of players through each decade. It’s going to be a special moment for me.”
On playing in his first NFL game: “I am really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a debut of what the Steelers can do. It’s feels surreal a little bit. It’s the first NFL game. Many players have been here before. It’s exciting for me and the other rookies.”
On preparing for the game: “In practice you are just doing the things you need to do within the scheme, understanding the scheme. That is the whole point of the game, you practice hard throughout the week so when the game comes it’s easy and you know what to do and just let football take over.”