How do you get to Cleveland? Practice

Mike Mitchell looked like a football player at practice today, more than he has since suffering a hamstring injury on the first day in pads at Saint Vincent College.

"I moved around in the pants," Mitchell reported. "It felt good, the size is fitting well, just like they always do. The cleats felt good, gloves felt good."

He hopes to do more than that take his uniform out for a test drive during the regular-season opener on Sept. 10 in Cleveland.

"That's the plan," Mitchell confirmed.

Getting back to practice and finding out how much time he'll need to make up the ground necessary to be ready for the Browns is the next step.

"You know when your game is tight and right," Mitchell said. "I need to get back out there so I can see where I'm at. I don't even know, really, where I'm at. Mentally, I know I feel sharp, I feel strong because I take so many mental reps. But there's a huge difference between imagining that you're breaking on a 7-route and actually putting your foot in the ground and driving on it and things like that. We'll just have to see when I get back out there.

"There's going to be work that is required. I have a lot of work to do. But everyone has a lot of work to do. Everyone has to improve, has to get better. The good thing is it's a long season. The No. 1 thing for me is getting healthy so I that can improve just like everyone else throughout the course of the season.

The Steelers prepare for the preseason Week 4 matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

"I think it would be fairly arrogant to just assume that you could step back out there and play at this level without practice. But I'm hoping that my nine years of preparation and awareness can pay off and help shorten that time."

As for the work the Steelers have been putting in during Mitchell's absence, the veteran safety has liked what he's seen.

"When you're winning games, I guess you're right where you want to be." he said. "When you don't win, you need to improve. We obviously lost our last game so we need to improve.

"But overall I've kind of liked where we are. Gotta get everyone back out there, myself included, so that we can really get to work. But I like the work that I'm seeing. I think guys are communicating at a very high level. I like the continuity, it's the same guys out there, so it looks good."

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