The Steelers made moves last week to bolster their offensive line, signing multiple players including James Daniels, who will be entering his fifth season in 2022.
And with a young line, that included multiple rookie starters in 2021, Daniels wants to come in and be a veteran leader for the group.
But he knows there is a step that has to come first.
He has to earn the respect of his teammates.
"I want to take on a leadership role, but first I would like to be respected, earn the respect of the others on the offensive line," said Daniels, standing outside the weight room at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex after going through a series of interviews and a photo shoot. "You can't take on a leadership role if you aren't respected. Once I earn the respect of the veterans, the rookies and younger players, the others in the offensive line room and earn it from the coaches and defensive players. Earning that respect is even more important than a leadership role. Once you earn that respect, you are looked at as a leader by others."
It's those words that tell you all you need to know about the way Daniels will lead. He wants to be someone his teammates can follow because of how he conducts himself, the approach he takes, and the little things he does that go a long way.
"I like to lead by example," said Daniels. "I like people being able to see me in the weight room, training room, on the field doing things right. When they see a veteran picking up trash, or taking notes in the team meeting, that goes a long way. I just want to lead by example.
"For me it's about just doing your job. That is what I was taught at Iowa, what Coach (Kirk) Ferentz taught me. Whenever you are at the facility, just do your job. I am going to try and take younger players under my wing and emphasize you only have one thing to do here, and that is do your job. If your job is to be at the facility at 8 am, that is your job. If your job is to block the three-technique a certain way, that is your job. Just everything you do. I just focus on doing my job."
Daniels has already heard from some of his new teammates, in particular those on the offensive line, and is looking forward to when the team gathers later this spring for offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex to start to build the relationship they will need when the season gets rolling.
"All of the offensive linemen have texted me and said we are ready to get to work," said Daniels. "I said the same thing. I am ready to get to work and help the team improve.
"Camaraderie among the offensive line has to be there. If your o-line isn't a tight group, you won't be a good line. They don't know me yet. We are just starting off, introductory types of texts, but that goes a long way. When you build that relationship now, you are able to trust them on fourth-and-sixth and things like that. I am just excited we are building those relationships now, almost a month ahead of when we even have to report."
Daniels is a player that seems like he is going to fit in perfectly with the Steelers way. He loves the history of the team, the family feel, and just the overall welcome he received when he signed with the team.
"I've been amazed at how good the people are and how genuine they are and how everyone is on the same mission, to win the Super Bowl," said Daniels. "I am excited to be around those people.
"It's about the tradition. You start with Mr. (Art) Rooney (II) all the way down. It's a first-class organization. The Steelers have been consistently one of the top organizations in the league, from the 1970s through now. I wanted to be a part of this tradition. I want to get to work. I am excited."