- Taking the next step: Stephon Tuitt knows the Steelers have the talent to go further in 2017 than they did in the 2016 season. He knows they have the drive to take it to the next level, to reach their goal of being Super Bowl champs. And now they have the one thing he feels might have been lacking last year, the understanding and experience of what it takes to get there and how to react when they do.
"You understand now what it takes," said Cockrell. "There was something more we had to give to win that game. For some reason, we didn't achieve it. We will go in next year smarter, more experienced to get to the next level.
"Part of it is experience, but it's also knowing that that moment is the same moment as every other game. It's no different, whether it's opening night, the AFC Championship Game, or whatever, we have to go out there and make plays and we didn't do that last year. I think you realize we are one step away from the Super Bowl. When you have never been there before, it's hard to treat it like you have been."
- Taking advantage: Having that experience and knowledge can definitely be an advantage for the Steelers, but it's up to the players to make that advantage work for them.
"It's only an advantage if we take the knowledge and use it and work and grow and continue the progress we made," said Cockrell. "We can't take any steps back. We have to continue to make progress and know it's not going to be easy to get back there, but we can get to the Super Bowl."
- The standard: The quest to take the next step, to begin the journey toward the ultimate goal, will start in just a few months when the team returns to work.
"It's going to start on Day 1, OTAs, minicamp," said Cockrell. "People are going to realize there is only one standard and if you aren't here for that, there really is no point in being here."