Byron Leftwich couldn't help but smile coming off the practice field during the team's mini-camp this past weekend. Not only was he out on the field doing what he loves, playing football, but he was back doing it at a place he loves.
"I was excited to be back," said Leftwich. "I had just a great time when I was here last time and guys welcomed me back with open arms. To be a part of an organization like this, which I feel is the best organization in sports. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear to have the opportunity to come back here and be a part of this.
"It's fun. I had the most fun in my NFL career last time I was here. It's not because we won the Super Bowl. It was about being in the locker room with the veteran guys, guys who understand what it is all about. Here there is only one goal and that is winning football games."
The Steelers traded for Leftwich in the days leading up to the NFL Draft, a day after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended by the NFL for six games.
Leftwich wasted no time getting into the flow of things, taking snaps with the first team offense in the first practice of mini-camp.
"They aren't spoon feeding me," said Leftwich. "They threw me right back in there which I am excited about. It's relearning some things. I pretty much know the offense. It's pretty much fine tuning and getting acclimated with this offense."
Leftwich has a huge advantage in doing that. He signed with the Steelers during training camp in 2008 when Charlie Batch was injured and in limited action completed 21 of 36 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent following the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII win, but was happy to come back for 2010.
"I know the guys, I know the offense, I know the coaches," said Leftwich. "That's the thing about it, to have the chance to be familiar. Last time I was here was the Super Bowl. Last game I participated in wearing a Steelers uniform was the Super Bowl. There are a lot of great memories there. Just to have the opportunity to work for a first class organization is a great thing."
There has been no word given on who will start the season during Roethlisberger's suspension and Leftwich is preparing for whatever the case might be.
"I will work my tail off," said Leftwich. "They will play the best quarterback. Whoever that is we will see. Right now I am just trying to get back in the groove, get back to throwing to the guys I haven't thrown to in a while. Once that gets here, we'll be okay.
"It's all going to work out. The best guys win. Right now it's so far away from that decision. Right now I am trying to get caught up with these guys. That's the whole thing about playing quarterback, understanding who you are throwing to and how you are going to throw the ball to certain people. That is the process I am going through."
While he is familiar with the offense, it's still going to take Leftwich some repetitions with the receivers to get back into the flow.
"It's just getting back in tune," said Leftwich. "Some things are different, but as a whole I have a grasp on the offense, I understand where the ball is supposed to go, where everybody is going to be, the protections and everything. I was nervous at first when I first got back because I knew I didn't have a lot of time for this mini-camp. Once I got in the meeting rooms and realized what they were doing its things I understood.
"When you take a year off and do something different – I am just trying to get that out of my head. When you like an offense you never forget it. I always liked this offense. I was trying to add some of this stuff in Tampa. I never forgot it, it's just getting back to calling it."