LATROBE, Pa. - For three weeks they have been hitting on the fields at Saint Vincent College, spending time in meetings rooms, in their dorm building and eating three meals a day together in the school's cafeteria. Working together as one; bonding together as a unit. It's been nothing but teamwork in the quiet, scenic rolling hills of the Laurel Highlands.
"You get homesick, you are away from your real family, but this time of year these guys are your family, they are your brothers," said safety Mike Mitchell. "You spend more time with them than you do your own family. We were secluded up here in Latrobe and had no choice but to bond."
For Mitchell, as well as receiver Lance Moore, it's been a good experience, one that ends after Thursday's practice against the Buffalo Bills. Both Mitchell and Moore signed with the team this offseason as unrestricted free agents, and camp was a perfect time to fully get to know their new teammates.
"Just to be able to get away, with zero distractions has been great," said Moore. "It was all business out here. We were in full camp mode, come together mode and it's been an excellent experience."
But there has been more than just team bonding that has taken place, there has been enormous growth on the football field, something that will carry over into September when the regular season is underway.
"This is the worst part of the year physically and the longest days of the year for us, but it's important," said Moore. "I am one of the guys that understand it. I have been around it a long time. It's a maturation process for the offense and defense coming together and fine tuning. It's an important part of what we do."
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers practicing with the Buffalo Bills on the 14th day of Training Camp.
Mitchell, who missed part of camp with a groin injury, has seen not just himself develop during camp, but the entire defense.
"We have had really good work," said Mitchell. "Everyone is starting to see each other, how we play and playing together. I know especially on the defense we had our first preseason game and it was good on all three phases to see how we need to play together to be able to get wins, because it's not an easy thing."
One of the things quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has liked most about this camp is the lack of mistakes that have been made in practice, a positive sign for the offense as a whole.
"For me the biggest thing is mistakes have gotten cut down, whether it's rookie mistakes, veteran mistakes, myself," said Roethlisberger. "Less mistakes usually means you are understanding things, you are in the book, you are studying, which leads to better production. I think every day we have gotten better.
"In years past we do well, then we do well again and then we have bad days. I don't think we have had nearly as many bad days on offense as we have had in the past."