Cortez Allen arrived at training camp with not much more than his suitcase, backpack and tennis shoes. The necessities to get him through the next month at Saint Vincent College, and keep things focused right where they should be.
"The focus is football," said Allen, one of the first veteran players to arrive. "I really don't need a whole lot. You take what you need and that is it. As far as clothes, you basically rotate. I use the bare minimum. I don't get a television or a bed."
What he has brought with him, though, is the right attitude. Last year Allen signed a five-year contract to be a stabilizing force at cornerback. But it wasn't the season he hoped for, marred by injuries and disappointing play. He has put that all behind him this year.
"This camp is very important to start out on a good foot," said Allen. "I am excited to be back out and competing with my teammates and just working. I want to bounce back and show people what I can do. It's a process.
"Last year was frustrating. Any time things don't go your way you get a little bit of frustration. Through those trials it makes you stronger. That is what it did. You learn more about yourself and I learn more every day."
Allen is coming off a strong offseason with work during OTAs and minicamp, as well as time spent afterwards working with linebacker James Harrison and his trainers.
"I got the chance to work with some of Harrison's people, work on correcting some things," said Allen. "They are good at what they do. The type of person James is, he is a real professional when it comes to taking care of his body. I knew that so I wanted to work around those guys and who they work with. I knew the type of wisdom he had about taking care of his bodies.
Fifty years of Steelers football at Saint Vincent College.
"You can learn so much from James. You don't have to talk. You can just look at him. The same as all of the veteran guys I have been fortunate to play with. You can just watch them work, you don't have to hear them talk, the way they carry themselves as men and players speaks for them."
This season, Allen is hoping to be one of those guys, one of the veteran leaders that the younger guys can look to and learn from.
"It's time to transition from just a guy to a leader," said Allen. "A guy people can count on to be there when needed and look to for advice and structure on how things are done."