Ben Roethlisberger had a big smile on his face on Tuesday and for good reason.
One of his guys was back in the locker room.
David DeCastro, who welcomed his second child this offseason, was at minicamp after missing all of the team's voluntary OTAs.
"I love Dave being here," said Roethlisberger. "It's so much fun to have everybody here. All the linemen. Everybody. I think everyone feels that same thing."
DeCastro said the time away this offseason being a dad helped him after what was a frustrating end to the 2018 season and an offseason filled with talk about everything but football. He said it took no time for him to see the difference in the locker room and it's a difference he welcomes with open arms.
"I think things have changed pretty well around here, just coming back and seeing it and talking to people," said DeCastro. "Just coming back here this week you can already feel it. I am excited. I really am. Just to play football. Everyone is on the same page. More team oriented.
"I am excited to see it. It's still early. I am excited to get the pads on at training camp and get back to football. It's been a weird offseason with a lot of things. Hopefully we can just worry about football now.
"I wanted to get a way a little bit. Take a little break. Excited to be back.
I think everyone is on the same page. Spend all the energy focusing on football. Everyone is coming together realizing what is important and that is playing football. I am excited."
While DeCastro isn't one to scour social media, he said it was tough this offseason hearing some of the things that were said, especially when the criticism was aimed at Roethlisberger.
"You see it. You can't not see it," said DeCastro. "It's hard to ignore things. You can't really escape. Talk is pretty cheap. Ben is a great leader. He always has been. He is one of those guys you enjoy playing with because he is a competitor and a grinder.
"I have always had a ton of respect for him. How could you not. You get in the huddle with him and he always brings you up. He is so competitive. I am just looking forward to getting back on the field with him."
The Steelers participate in Day 1 of the 2019 minicamp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex
Showing plenty of growth: Rookie Devin Bush stepped right in and opened eyes when he took part in rookie minicamp back in May, but now that he has been through the offseason and taking part in the team's full minicamp, he sees a lot of growth in so many areas.
"I have seen myself grow in the short amount of time," said Bush. "Just getting acclimated to professional football, being around these guys, having a lot of older guys around me that can help guide me. I have definitely seen myself grow a lot. I need to grow more and when that time comes I will be ready."
Bush said the biggest growth has come in just being a professional, the responsibility that comes with moving from the college level to where it's now your job, your livelihood.
"It's everything this job comes with, dealing with on the field things, off the field things. Just life," said Bush. "Coming in here to the facility and doing what I am supposed to do. Leaving the facility and doing what I am supposed to do. Coming back day in and day out and being consistent.
"It's different. There are no more classes, no more mandatory this or that. Everything is now your job. Everything is for you to do. You have to carry your weight in the fact that you are a grown man, a professional, and it's all on you."
The team's No. 1 draft pick this year is learning something new every day, always keeping his mind open to new ideas. He wants to use the weeks between minicamp and training camp to continue learning and improving in every area.
"Just getting myself better," said Bush. "Keep my head in the playbook. Watch more film and get ready for training camp.
"Once it becomes football, we put the pads on, the real things about football. I think that is where I flourish the most."
He said it:
Joe Haden on who has stood out to him:
"For me the receiver, No. 18 (Diontae Johnson). He runs some really, really crisp routes. He is natural. He is fast. He comes out of his breaks really well. He has been impressive. I watch receivers. I watch tape on them. He is a good one."
Coach Mike Tomlin on minicamp:
"It's not very different than OTAs in terms of some of the on-field work and the points of emphasis that we are doing. More than anything, it is a culmination of offseason work. And we are making some points that need to be made, emphasizing some things, particularly things that are new in 2019, like rule emphasis or new rules. Familiarizing ourselves with those things and making sure everybody gets an opportunity to go to camp knowing what to do. That will allow them to play at full speed and thus give them a legitimate chance. As we are in this last week, it is about tying up some loose ends and making sure we give some new guys, some young guys an opportunity to gain more experience so that they can be on the same footing as some of the veteran players when we get to Latrobe. We will continue to do that, but it was a good day today."
Donte Moncrief on having the offseason to work with Ben Roethlisberger:
"It's huge. Time with your quarterback is one of the biggest things. it makes the game slow down. You can tell the time is getting there. We are going to continue to work on it and see where it goes."
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