It was a busy day at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Monday as Phase Two of the offseason program got underway and players were on hand for the voluntary workouts.
While it’s not to the level of OTAs or minicamp, it is the next step to getting football ready for the players, and they turned out in large numbers.
“It’s definitely good to get in this mode,” said Ryan Shazier. “It feels like we have been out of football for a while. To be able to get here with the guys and do some work, it’s good. Just to get back on the field with the coaches, it’s a good time.
“It feels like football is coming back. The draft is over, basketball is in playoffs, hockey is in playoffs, that means it’s football time.”
Phase Two spans the next three weeks of the offseason, including the team’s rookie minicamp May 12-14, and consists of on-field workouts that allow individual player instruction by the coaches. There is no live contact, no team offense vs. team defense permitted, but it’s a graduation from working in the weight room only the previous two weeks.
“It’s fun to be out there seeing the guys,” said Antonio Brown. “It’s great to be in the environment where you are breathing hard, everyone is holding each other accountable and we are working our tails off.
“It’s great to be with the guys. You can’t simulate this type of environment, the competitiveness, getting in shape. Watching the guys work, working with the guys, starting the process.”
The workouts are strictly on a voluntary basis, but that hasn’t kept away veterans like Shazier and Brown, as well as a boatload of others including Cameron Heyward, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and too many more to name.
“It makes a statement,” said Brown. “It shows my mind is in the right place. I hope it motivates the guys. Coming out there, setting a good example and setting the pace early. This is just the start.”