Back at it: The Steelers returned to practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Monday after a four-day break for the bye weekend, and the defense got a boost with the return of Cameron Heyward.
Heyward confirmed he was a full participant in practice, and was feeling good afterwards.
The Steelers prepare for the week 9 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
"There is no pain involved right now," said Heyward, who missed the last two games. "I am just looking forward to getting after the season. It's a new season."
Having Heyward back was a welcome sight for players on both sides of the ball.
"He did a good job," said Maurkice Pouncey. "He was chasing the quarterback some. He was his normal self, yelling at practice. That is good for the defense. We need that."
Stephon Tuitt said the return of Heyward can do nothing but help the team as they prepare for an AFC North showdown against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
"It was good to get everybody back healthy and on the field," said Stephon Tuitt. "It will be good to get back to our old ways of dominating."
Return game: Heyward wasn't the only one who got some valuable work on Monday. Marcus Gilbert was back at it and couldn't be happier.
"It was good," said Gilbert, who missed three straight games with an ankle injury. "I was glad to be back out there with my guys. Just to get the feel of football again. Going through certain situations, I felt really good, really comfortable. One day at a time.
"I did the majority of the reps. I started off slow, progressed and finished up strong."
Gilbert said he has kept up on his conditioning, but nothing replaces being out on the field for practice, and his plan is to be there on Sunday against the Ravens.
"I plan on being out there," said Gilbert. "I love this game so much. I miss being out there with my guys. Anything I can do to be out there, I want to get back out there and help this team."
Markus Wheaton feels the same way. Wheaton has missed four games this season, the first two of the year and the last two, and just wants to be back.
"I felt great," said Wheaton, who said he was a full go at practice. "As you know it's been a while, but it felt good to get out there."
Will he, or won't he: Teammates said they continue to be encouraged with how Ben Roethlisberger is recovering from his knee injury, and some wouldn't be surprised to see him on the field Sunday against the Ravens.
"Me knowing Ben, no (I wouldn't be surprised), but the rest of the world, probably," said Pouncey. "Whenever you have a leader like that, that comes out there and shows the team you are willing to do whatever it takes to come out and play with your brothers, man you can respect that. Everyone knows and sees why he is a leader and captain on this team."
Let's get physical: After a four-day break, Monday's practice got physical and the players welcomed that.
"We had good energy. I think we just approached it the right way," said Heyward. "It's a Monday, but it's the start of the week. We started on Baltimore this week and we are ready to get after it.
"Putting the pads back on, I can speak for myself, but I have to get the hitting back. That is such a big element in our game. The things we want to work on, tackling, being in the right lanes, what better way to do it than with pads."