The Steelers offseason program is in the books, and for the next month players will do a combination of relaxing and enjoying some free time as well as preparing themselves for training camp, when things get real.
Joe Haden knows that it's a key time, a time when you have to make sure your body is completely ready for what you are about to face.
"The offseason program gets you ready a little bit, but once you leave here and go to wherever it is you are going to be working out, you have to stay on the field, continue to play, do your football stuff, do your position drills, a lot of running, a lot of stuff with your cleats on the field," said Haden. "That is the big thing, football conditioning. That is the thing when training camp comes because you are getting after a whole lot. Minicamp and OTAs helped with conditioning, but when you put the pads on it's something that comes natural to you. It's all about conditioning and keeping your feet up under you during the break, before we get back."
Haden welcomed the offseason program, the opportunity to get a full feel of what the team does after being traded to the Steelers last year during the preseason. But what he really is ready for is training camp when the pads come on.
"I am so much better with the pads on," said Haden. "Football is football. When you have on shorts and shirts it's one thing. Real football, when you can really put your hands on guys and disrupt things, it changes up a whole lot. It's not flag football you are playing. We were out here trying to protect each other, make sure nobody gets hurt in minicamp and OTAs.
"I know when I put my pads on I get a lot better. There are certain players you can see, even rookies that can make a lot of plays out here. When you put pads on it's real football. It's different."
Brotherly love: Terrell Edmunds will spend the next month getting ready for camp with the help of his brothers. His older brother Trey Edmunds is with the New Orleans Saints, while his younger brother Tremaine Edmunds was drafted by the Buffalo Bills this year.
"I am going to get with my brothers and work out," said Edmunds. "That is always good. My younger brother tries to act like he is the fastest and the biggest, because he is the biggest. My older brother just swears he is the fastest. I am a nice mix of both of them."
Edmunds, who said he felt good about the progress he made this offseason, also is looking forward to getting the pads on because like Haden he knows that is when football gets real.
"That is the real football there," said Edmunds. "You can come down and make tackles, make hits and knock some balls down."
The Steelers participate in the 2018 minicamp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Up to the minute: The last practice of minicamp was a first for Mason Rudolph, his first opportunity to run the team's two-minute offense.
"It was my first two-minute in minicamp, or really OTAs," said Rudolph. "It was fun to learn the new operation, get all the calls, and listen to the microphone from Coach (Randy) Fichtner. He does a great job of speaking clearly, slowly, enunciating. It's a different way to communicate. You roll with it. Not much of a learning curve. It's better, it's easier. You don't have to look to the sideline. You get it right there and call it. It helped out a lot. It was a good experience."
Rudolph also felt good about the progress he has made since rookie minicamp shortly after the draft, through OTAs, and most recently in the veteran minicamp.
"I was really happy. I had a great minicamp," said Rudolph. "There were a lot of mistakes the first couple of practices in rookie minicamp. I corrected them. Had a great end. OTAs similar way. Threw a couple of picks early on and then had a great finish. It was the same trend with minicamp.
"I am happy with how I progressed. I am looking forward to the next four weeks to get myself up to speed, on the same playing field as other guys. I probably won't get to 100 percent, but I want to close the gap quick so I can mentally know it and be out there physically and let it flow and be comfortable."