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Offseason Program

Back at it again

The weather in Pittsburgh the last few days has felt more like football season than springtime, which made it appropriate for the Steelers to be back to work at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Phase 1 of the offseason program is officially underway around the NFL, which is voluntary and consists of strength and conditioning, meetings, and physical rehabilitation only.

For the Steelers, it kicked off with a team meeting and Coach Mike Tomlin brought an in-season energy to a mid-April start.

"Coach Tomlin always brings good vibes," said defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi. "He was excited to see everybody. Everybody was happy to be back."

The clanking of weights could be heard through the hallways as players filled the building once again for the first step in an offseason that will culminate with minicamp in June.

"It's great to have everyone back," said quarterback Kenny Pickett. "There are a lot of familiar faces, but there are a lot of new faces too. It's a good time to learn everyone's name to be honest. It's an opportunity to get back into the swing of things and get into a routine. It was awesome to see everyone."

While getting the conditioning rolling is one of the main focuses during Phase 1, like Pickett said it's about getting to know everyone. The players have all been working out before they even reported back, but now instead of doing it as individuals they are doing it as a team that is going to be together for the long road ahead.

"It's big time," said tight end Pat Freiermuth. "Having most of the guys back, it's awesome that we can work together, especially the offense because we are young. We are working together and getting used to each other again.

"It's very valuable. Getting to know our new teammates and starting to build relationships. Also getting to know different things that can get us going quickly when OTAs and camps roll around."

The turnout was a strong one, with a mix of young players, veterans and newcomers on hand and all of them happy to be back together.

"I think it's important for the camaraderie to get the team together," said Ogunjobi. "Guys are all over the country training, but it's good to come back, see some familiar faces, see some new ones and do what we love.

"It's a great time to get acclimated, get together. We are finding out who is new, who is on the team. It really is a time to get acclimated. That's the best thing about it. Guys are getting accustomed to the system, how things are working, the day-to-day things we have to do. Getting everything together."

It's only the beginning of the work for the black and gold, but the fact that so many of the players are working says it all.

"It shows the commitment," said Pickett. "We have a young team, and we want to get better. If we continue to have that kind of commitment throughout the spring, it will springboard us into camp and that is what you want."