A sense of normalcy returns for Steelers' players today when practice returns to the team's facility on the South Side, after spending the last four weeks in training camp at Saint Vincent College.
"It was a long time at camp," said linebacker Jarvis Jones. "It's always good to go to camp. Guys get to know each other more, you build camaraderie, go through tough times and pain.
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"But being back on the South Side is something special. You put that time in. You get back to the South Side and it's a sense of relief. You hang out in the locker room around everybody. You prepare a different type of way. You have a whole different mindset."
The competitive juices will still be flowing on the practice field, as mandatory roster cuts to get to the 53-man roster have yet to begun. But it's getting a routine, a sense of what to expect down the road, that gives the players comfort.
"Practice changes a little bit," said guard David DeCastro. "It's still full contact right now and you are getting in some good work against the guys. But it's a little different. You get in that season routine which is really nice. That is something you look forward to."
And while the Steelers still have two more preseason games to play, just being back gives the players the feeling that the regular season is just around the corner.
"Once you get back to the South Side, you know what time it is," said Jones. "It's a whole other gear now. It's not training camp anymore. The season is here. It's for all the marbles now.
"Once you get back, it's all work, it's all grind. Everything is huge. Games will be weighing a lot heavier soon than the preseason games."