LATROBE, Pa. - It's been awhile since they have hit anyone other than their own teammates; since the guys on the other side of the line of scrimmage have worn a different helmet.
On Saturday night, though, that will all change when the Steelers open the preseason against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, and players are ready to go at it.
"It's always a good time when you know at the end of the week it's an opponent and we are not just practicing against ourselves," said cornerback Will Gay. "It's good. It's the first preseason game. We are itching for it and ready to go.
"We are focused on playing fast; understating the defense collectively. We are going to fight to win."
It will be the first opportunity for the coaches to see what the rookies can do in NFL game action, but it will also give them their first look at some of the free agents signed this offseason.
"After a while you get tired of the same repetition of hitting your own players," said defensive tackle Cam Thomas. "I can't wait for Saturday.
"That is when everything shows, when you are on the field against somebody else. Practice has been good, but I am ready to show them what I can do against other opponents."
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steeler's 11th day of Training Camp.
There might not be anyone more anxious to get on the playing field for game action than linebacker Sean Spence. Spence suffered a severe knee injury in the preseason in 2012, and has missed the last two seasons. This will be the first time he steps back on to the playing field since then.
"I am super ready," said Spence. "I still have plenty of time to get ready too. I have to take it one day at a time and go from here.
"Any time I put the pads on in practice I try to take advantage of every opportunity I get and Saturday is another opportunity."
The preseason won't just be a test for individual players, but for the team as a whole. The Steelers went through the 2013 preseason in a disappointing fashion with an 0-4 record, and while the games don't count in the final standings, players want to get things rolling faster this year.
"I think it starts in OTAs and workouts. We have to see what progress we made. We definitely can't have an 0-4 preseason, or 0-4 regular season, to start off. We just have to continue to let the young guys grow, make sure we are meshing well, and come out swinging."