A time to build

It's not football right now. It's not even 'football in shorts.' But for Steven Johnson, after not playing since last November, it's close enough.

Johnson is among a large contingent of players taking part in Phase Two of the team's offseason program. And he couldn't be happier.

Johnson was placed on injured reserve in mid-November last year, after suffering an ankle injury against Dallas in Week 10. Now he is on the road to recovery, taking part in the program and getting closer to full strength each day.

"I am doing good," said Johnson. "I am excited. I am running, doing everything with the team. I am expecting a full recovery.

"It's important for me to get out there. Getting out there and going through all of the Phase Two stuff is going to behoove me and allow me to be more efficient and allow me to play this season. Phase Two is a big step. We are moving around. It's a very necessary step and important piece of being a championship team."

It's obvious others agree with him on the importance of getting started now. On any given day, the weight room is overflowing with players who all share the same mentality of becoming a championship team.

"If you want to be a championship team, you have to have your team on one accord early in the season. Even before the season starts," said Johnson. "If you want to be successful you have to be here. You have to come in and gel and get on one page sooner than other teams do so you can get on a run.

Phase two of the Steelers offseason workout is underway.

"Having so many veterans here speaks volumes. Not a lot of teams do that. The benefit of coming back and getting in the building with your team, it builds leadership, it builds camaraderie, the intangible things that get you over the hump in the playoffs."

The camaraderie is something that is being built off the field as well. And Johnson is doing his part. He is hosting a Steelers vs. The Nation paintball tournament on May 20, where fans can take on him and his teammates, while having a good time and raising money for Johnson's Faith Motivated Foundation.

"Paintball is a competitive activity where I want our team to go out and interact with the community and just have fun," said Johnson. "On Sundays we are playing and the fans are watching. I know the fans wonder what it's like to be out there with us. This will give them a dose of that, being out there playing with us.

"It's going to be a great family atmosphere. I invite Steelers Nation to come out. It's going to be a fun deal."

To register, click on Steelers vs. The Nation.

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