Will Allen knows what OTAs are all about. He has been in the league long enough, entering his 12th season, to understand that while a lot of great work is being done now by the team's young defensive backs, it's still not contact and that is what football is all about.
"Some guys are showing they can play well, but we are only in jerseys and helmets," said Allen. "A lot of guys are showing quickness, speed and athleticism. Training camp will show who we are, what the defensive backs can do."
There is still a lot of time until training camp, with three OTAs remaining and the team's minicamp, and there is still work to be done to get to the point where Allen wants the unit to be.
"We have a lot of growing to do," said Allen. "We are nearly where we want to be. There is something to get excited for, and to be encouraged about. I would like to see us progress, not make the same mistakes twice. We have to start a lot faster than we did last year to be world champions."
Allen said while the retirement of Troy Polamalu will be felt by the defense, they won't be looking for anyone to replace him, instead just everyone do what it asked of them.
"Guys have to just do their job," said Allen. "If you do your job, execute and bring your best, we can go where we want to go. Troy was a huge part of this team, nobody can be like him. Nobody wants to measure up to that.
"If everybody does their job, plays in the confines of the defense and does what their bodies allow them too, we can do a lot of great things this year."
Allen, who was originally drafted by Tampa Bay in 2004, signed with the Steelers in 2009 as an unrestricted free agent. He left after the 2012 season, signing with the Dallas Cowboys, but it was a short stint. He was released by the Cowboys just a little over a month into the 2013 season, and the day after he was waived, he was signed back by the Steelers. He was a free agent this past offseason, but wanted nothing more than to remain with the Steelers.
"I couldn't imagine myself playing anywhere else, with any other organization," said Allen. "I love playing for Coach (Mike) Tomlin, the Rooney family. It's fun. It's where I am supposed to be.
"Just with the community, my foundation, what I am doing and the team, helping the young players and coming to work every day. I love the environment. It's conducive to winning."