LATROBE, Pa. - The action will pick up significantly today at training camp when the Steelers host the Buffalo Bills for their first of two practices at Saint Vincent College.
"I just think we need to put these guys in as many challenging situations; uncomfortable situations as we can," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "Working against an unfamiliar opponent and unfamiliar scheme in a lot of instances in a practice setting raises the level of urgency. We'll get an opportunity to learn more about these guys and that's what it's about. We want to put them in as many positions as we can to evaluate them and give them an opportunity to show what they are capable of."
It's the first time since the early 1990s the Steelers have held a joint practice with another team, and the players are looking forward to the intensity picking up.
"I think it does change the attitude," said rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier. "You are so used to going against your own guys so when you are going against somebody else it's a little change up, a little different.
"I think we are going to have a great time going out there and seeing somebody else practice, a new scheme and see some new guys so we can beat up on them. It will be good to see some different guys out there."
The teams will share the practice fields on Wednesday for a 2:55 p.m. practice then again on Thursday for practice at 5:30 p.m. The practices will give the teams a look at each other before they meet in the preseason on Saturday at Heinz Field.
"It's good because we are not hitting each other," said linebacker Lawrence Timmons. "We are hitting another team. You get tired hitting the same guys every day. It's fun for the players."
One of the advantages for the offense will be practicing against a team that brings a different look. The Bills employ a 4-3 defense, so it will give the players two days of practice working against it, helping them not just this week but down the road.
Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steeler's 13th day of Training Camp.
"It's a good switch up from what we see going against our guys every day, a 4-3 penetrator, it's a different style of defense," said tackle Mike Adams. "It's a different look. It's good to switch it up. I know we are all really excited about it, having a chance to compete against some other people."
And everyone expects things are going to get pretty physical, as players on both sides are going to want to show what they are capable of with all eyes upon them.
"I think it's going to be really good to go out there and compete against a team other than your own and find out what we are about," said tackle Marcus Gilbert. "It will be preparation for the second game live. It's exciting. We will be playing a lot faster because we will be playing against them, so it will be good for both groups. It's a good defense; it's going to help the offense get better. The offense has a lot of speed too so it's going to help our defense.
"It's going to be physical. You might see a fight here and there. A lot of guys are going to try and prove a point. Guys are fighting for roster spots and it brings out the best in everybody."