LATROBE, Pa. – *"You try to get your body where you are almost indestructible. That's the goal every time I go in the weight room. I just want to be ready."
Those were words from linebacker Anthony Chickillo at the end of the 2016 season, coming off his rookie year when he had an eye-opening understanding of the type of condition an NFL player needs to be in.
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 4th training camp practice.
So Chickillo, who mind you wasn't in bad condition to begin with as a rookie, worked all offseason just to make sure he was even better prepared for year two.
Since college Chickillo said he has dropped 40 pounds, yes 40 pounds, to where he is right around 250 right now. And he loves the way he feels.
"I feel so much better," said Chickillo. "I felt like going into last season I made a transition with my body and I tried to take it to the next step. I want to keep moving forward. Keep taking steps forward."
Chickillo said he has made changes as far as nutrition, his conditioning methods, and the combination is helping him at a level of play where being in top condition is a number one requirement for survival.
"The NFL is not so much about being real big and fast," said Chickillo. "It's about being powerful, in condition, and being able to play fast at your weight. I have always been a high endurance athlete. I could run a long time.
"You feel better now throughout the day, eating the right things, putting the right things in your body. It's about being comfortable. It's really helped. I feel so much better."
Second to none: The Steelers defense finished 21st overall in the NFL last year, and 30th in pass defense. That is something they want to turn around this year, and turn around fast.
"We have to get up to speed as far as the back end if we want to be where we want to be at the end of the year, and that's winning a championship," said cornerback William Gay. "We have to get up to speed. We can't be slow with it. We have to use this time during training camp to get it all together."
The secondary has an infusion of youth this year with the addition of first-round pick Artie Burns and second-round selection Sean Davis, and Gay likes what he sees so far from the progress they have made.
"They are getting comfortable with the playbook," said Gay. "That is the most important thing. They have the playbook down and that is what they need to do."
Davis said he spent every minute he could this offseason looking at the playbook, preparing, and getting himself ready for the long haul.
"There wasn't a day I wasn't thinking about the plays," said Davis. "Just learning everything. Picking up different positions. I want to learn the mental game, the most positions possible to give me a better opportunity on the field. I think I have done a good job of that. Hopefully I can showcase that the rest of camp."