The Steelers open the preseason on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, and while there is still a way to go, defensive coordinator Keith Butler likes what he sees from his unit.
"I think the communication is good," said Butler. "There is some decent tackling going on. We could be better at that. What we need to do is find out who we've got and what they do best."
That tackling is something that has been a point of emphasis this training camp, especially after the defense finished in the bottom tier in the league in missed tackles last season. It was something that to say the least ticked Butler off.
"Yeah. Very much so," said Butler. "We could have ended up a whole lot better than we were, possibly help us get to where we want to go. Our goal is the Super Bowl, to get there we have to tackle.
"We practice all of the time. It has to be part of our everyday routine of practicing. It should show up in the game if we keep committing time to it."
Butler is anxious to see what some of the young players and newcomers can do once the take the field, but one who has impressed him already is first round pick Terrell Edmunds.
"I think Terrell has done a good job for us," said Butler. "He likes the challenge of it. He does a good job of talking. He understands that he is a young guy, he is growing and listening to the veterans. He has done well.
"I think Morgan Burnett too. We didn't see him a lot, but what we have seen of him he has done a good job for us. He brings versatility. Not just playing on first and second down, but maybe playing in the box on third down and stuff like that. We have to see if our guys can do that."
Thursday will be the first real test for a lot of others, and what they put on tape can make a huge difference in the eyes of the coaches.
"We have to find out what we've got and what they do best. We'll find out in the preseason," said Butler. "I just want to see our young guys, see them compete, see if we have somebody on this team that deserves to make the team. I am going to cater to them as far as how we practice. The other guys are going to do the stuff we are going to do during the season, the younger guys are going to do the stuff we do in the preseason."
The return of football is something the players are looking forward to, and will be a welcome opportunity to hit someone other than their own teammates.
Several of them, including some newcomers to the team this offseason, gave their take on game day finally being in sight.
Nat Berhe: "I am excited. We finally get to go out there and hit somebody other than ourselves. I am excited about playing defense I am excited about special teams. I can't wait. Being with a new team, how they warm up, just going through the cycle of being with a new team is really fun."
Jon Bostic: "As a defense we know we have a long ways to go. We have to keep building each and every day. I am excited to go out there and play with my teammates. We have been grinding since OTAs, into summer, into camp, all this building we have done we are excited to put it on film."
Mike Hilton: "This is the time we are preparing for. It means the season is around the corner. It's time to put what we are focusing on on tape and get ready for the regular season. It's a different type of energy when you are going against your teammates than another opponent. The energy is going to turn up."
Tyler Matakevich: "I can't wait. It's been a long time since I have had two good arms. I am excited. You are getting to that point where you are hitting the same person every day. I am anxious for Thursday so I can get out there and hit somebody else, hit someone in a different jersey."
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers 10th day of training camp.