Ramon Foster didn't participate in OTAs after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee in March, but what he observed this spring had the veteran guard excited about the tone that was being set in advance of the opening of training camp on July 27.
Foster addressed a number of OTA-related topics before the Steelers' offseason program came to a close, including:
What impressed him the most:
"What am I seeing? JuJu (Smith-Schuster), aggressiveness, his play at wide receiver. Artie (Burns), I feel like he's had one of the best springs from a year-one to a year-two guy, he's looked really good. (No. 1 pick) T.J. (Watt), of course, is doing his thing. And in general the whole rookie class has just been rookies, and that's good. They don't say much, they come to work and they ask questions.
"Also, (first-year cornerback) Mike (Hilton), No. 40, the DB, I had to ask Kevin Colbert about him, who is this guy? He's comfortable going with the No. 1s. He's a guy that's always making a play. He's shifty, he doesn't look rattled.
"There are some good guys out there who have made a statement, but it is just the spring."
What he's seen specifically from Burns:
"A calmness, a person that looks like he knows what route to defend, a guy that looks like he realizes this is a business now. His speed is catching up to his play. Mentally he seems like he's there in how he's approaching work. He's a very cerebral guy and you can tell he's a hell of an athlete. It looks like everything is catching up if you compare that to last year where he was just playing. Now, he's playing and understanding."
If he's thought much about how to beat New England since last season's AFC Championship Game:
"It looked like our defense understands a little bit, they've been really good this spring. But saying all of that, everybody feels like they're going to win the Super Bowl in the spring. My thing is the stuff that we've done where guys have been playing at a higher tempo. You've seen more pass break-ups and the defense is doing different things in practice. From my perspective from watching it, it's ratcheted up.
"With the talent we have on offense and the young guys that are emerging on defense as far as the outside rushers with Bud (Dupree) and T.J. (Watt), it's coming along well. Vince (Williams) and (Ryan) Shazier are leading it and everybody else is following.”
The Steelers' most-impressive rookie:
"What is that, the Mean Joe Greene (Great Performance) Award? It might be a tie if (Watt and Smith-Schuster) can play up to what they've done in the spring and mature and maintain. If you think about it, they are going to be going an entire year with no time off, meaning the combine training, the combine, the draft, the spring, summer camp, and then a full season. If they can maintain, they're going to help us in a major way."
What the offense needs to maximize its potential:
"Consistency, that's No. 1 with us. We have the talent. We have everything you want. Consistency is going to be the key for us. We can't have a four-game, a five-game, a six-game winning streak and then drop three in a row, that can't happen. We have to be a team that's consistently improving each and every week. It's up to us to make that happen."