The excitement for the 2023 NFL season for the Steelers extends beyond the players and coaching staff. With his first full season behind him as the team's general manager, Omar Khan feels it too.
Khan, who took over for Kevin Colbert when he retired following the 2022 NFL Draft, spent this offseason building and reshaping the Steelers. And he's anxious to see the fruits of his work that began at the conclusion of the 2022 season when he began meeting with team president Art Rooney II and head coach Mike Tomlin.
"We had a vision after last season," Khan said Thursday as the Steelers prepared for their first practice of the 2023 training camp here at Saint Vincent College. "Coach, Art, myself, we got together and we put together a plan of what we wanted -- we had a vision of what we wanted the roster to look like this year and how we were going to win football games.
"I can say every week in this league brings a different challenge, and you have to win football games in -- every week it's a different way. Sometimes we're going to hopefully win (by) scoring. You might win (by) scoring 12 points. Sometimes you might need to score 40 points. I'm confident we can win either way."
The Steelers were active in free agency beefing up both their offensive and defensive lines. They continued that into the draft while improving their depth across the roster.
And the Steelers were aggressive in enacting the plan Khan, Rooney and Tomlin worked out.
Now, it's time to see the results, though they won't be immediately visible.
"I said early on that competition at every position was important," Khan said. "I think we've accomplished that leading into camp. We've got some really cool fun battles that will take place. I'm not going to get into specifics as to which players and which battles, but I think we have that, and there's a lot of time between now and September 10, but there will be some good things we're going to be watching carefully."
The Steelers remained active in the offseason right up until the start of camp. In the past week, outside linebacker Alex Highsmith was signed to a five-year contract extension, while earlier this week, the team's final unsigned draft pick, second-round selection Joey Porter Jr., got a deal finalized, as well.
Khan said the Steelers aren't currently working on any other new deals, but that doesn't mean they won't revisit that at some point.
"We're not going to close the door on anything, but right now I can tell you there's nothing," Khan said.
So, the hay is in the barn.
Now, it's time to sit back and watch the results from the past seven months and see if they add up to a winning combination.
For Khan, it's the next step in the process, one that won't end just because the season is set to begin in a little over a month. He's been with the team over two decades and knows there are always ongoing additions and subtractions.
But he'll enjoy the next few weeks of watching the roster he's helped construct come together with the goal of competing for a Super Bowl.
"Based on how the off-season went, this was my first real off-season in this position, so I didn't really have anything to compare it to," Khan said. "But just based how things went and our process and the people that I did it with, we talk and evaluate ourselves and the team all the time, and just feel really good about where we're at."
This team feels it has the pieces in place to win a championship. What's spurring that feeling?
"It's just a vibe, where we are, the locker room of men that we have and the staff," Khan said. "We just know what's at the end of the tunnel. We know the hard work that it's going to require to get there, and I just feel good about the people and their willingness to do it."