Welcome to the family: Among the players who are taking part in Phase One of the offseason program are those who signed with the team as unrestricted free agents this offseason. And it’s a perfect time for them to get to know their new teammates, and their teammates to learn a lot more about them.
“It is huge for me to be here, be around the guys, and get back to the program,” said Donte Moncrief. “It was very important. I knew I couldn’t miss this. This is getting back to it. I am a new guy, so this is to give the guys a chance to know who I am, how I work, showing the guys I am ready to go.”
Another guy who is ready to go is Steven Nelson. He already got a taste of Pittsburgh last week when one of his first stops was at Primanti Bros. for one of their legendary sandwiches. Now he is getting a taste of what it’s like to be a part of the black and gold, and he likes it.
“I am happy to be here,” said Steven Nelson. “I am happy to be around the guys, get that camaraderie going. This is a time to see the guys. For me, it’s something new. It’s a new atmosphere for me. I think it’s really important to be here.”
For Mark Barron, who has been down this road before starting over with a new team, this time is extremely valuable.
“For me it’s more about meeting everybody, building that chemistry and camaraderie,” said Barron. “Getting a feel for the team. This is my first interaction with the team as a whole. It’s more so about that, initially anyway.”
And what does he hope his teammates quickly learn about him?
“They are going to get a hard worker,” said Barron. “I love this game and when I am on the field I play with passion. They are getting a guy that wants to win at all costs.”
Taking advantage: Last year Ryan Switzer arrived in the Steelers locker room for the first time barely a week before the first regular season game.
This year, he was one of the first players at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for Phase one of the offseason program.
Switzer plans on taking advantage of every minute of the voluntary program for two reasons. One of course is to get prepared for the 2019 season. But the second reason, and the one that is key this time of year, is team bonding.
“I think it’s big,” said Switzer. “I am learning more about them, they are learning more about who I am. I am excited to spend two straight years with an organization, with the same guys. This is great”
Switzer said he is impressed at the turnout of veterans for the program, especially since the first few weeks really are about strength and conditioning.
“It’s special, it’s important,” said Switzer. “It’s the willingness of guys and the dedication to be something greater than ourselves and try to put something together as a team.”
The Steelers continue with Phase One of the voluntary offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex
Feeling comfortable: For the past few weeks Mason Rudolph has been in Pittsburgh, working out at the practice facility in the weight room on his own.
But when he wanted to get out and throw, work on his arm, he had to do it elsewhere as NFL rules didn’t allow players to work on the field prior to the start of the offseason program.
“I have been throwing consistently, three times a week the last three weeks,” said Rudolph. “There are some fields in the area here we have been going to. We have had a good group together working. There are some guys who haven’t been in town, so to get everyone together now is great.”
One of the aspects of Phase One of the offseason program is that quarterbacks are now permitted to throw. Nothing formal. Nothing with coaches. Just getting on the field and getting loose so they are ready when the next step comes. And when that step comes, Rudolph will be ready.
“Everything is more comfortable,” said Rudolph. “It’s your first time going through a regular offseason. I am excited to be back with the guys. It’s a good chance to get some guys back, work with them and meet and keep the train moving.”