Knowing what to expect

Knowing what to expect: With the offseason now underway, it's the time that players start to look at where they can improve, what they need to work on, and overall evaluate their season.

For tight end Pat Freiermuth, he admitted there was a lot to take in when he first arrived in Pittsburgh, but as time wore on, things became much easier.

"It was definitely tough learning at first," said Freiermuth. "I think the OTA period really helped, just the walkthroughs and stuff and extra reps before camp. Coming from college, most colleges don't even huddle and they use one word kind of lingos and everyone kind of knows what to do on those plays. Being in the huddle and hearing Ben (Roethlisberger) say the plays it's kind of an adjustment with that part. We were comfortable with each other at a certain point in the season. There were some challenges, but we worked through them throughout the year."

Freiermuth is coming off of a strong rookie season, but he understands he has to take that jump to Year 2.

"I think going into every year is different," said Freiermuth. "When you go into college as a freshman you don't really know what to expect or work on because you haven't experienced anything. I think going into this offseason, I know what to work on and know what to get better at on and off the field, as a leader and stuff like that. I'm excited to know specifically what to work at and specifically what I need to do to get better. I'm excited to attack that the best I can."

And there are two areas where he is focusing to do that - in-line blocking and downfield receiving.

"I need to improve in my in-line blocking," said Freiermuth. "I think I'm a pretty good blocker out in space. I need to be able to continue to have the coaches have trust in me and have confidence and be able to move defensive ends in the run game and be that point of attack blocker. I think point of attack blocking, being able to move people, I think that my upper body strength, core strength, my footwork, strike, everything. I'm confident that I will be able to do it next year."

Being a guy who can work the field vertically is also something he wants to do, having the run after catch that makes him even more of a threat than he is already showing he can be.

"I'll just get better at my routes," said Freiermuth. "You can always work at that level and run after. Coach (Mike) Tomlin always talks about that. Just getting more comfortable with that.

"I think with the year I had teams are going to watch the short, intermediate routes with me, those flat balls and curls and stuff like that. I definitely have to get a little more comfortable and be asked to run downfield more and run those deeper routes. I think this offseason is big for me being able to showcase that I can do that and work on doing that."

Under his wing: Getting through a rookie season can be a challenge, and it always helps to have a veteran on your side.

For defensive back Tre Norwood, he had multiple veterans aiding him in 2021, but one who really took him under his wing was safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

"Minkah's impact on me my rookie season was huge," said Norwood. "That might be an understatement, honestly. He took me under his wing from day one. Having a guy like him, being in the same room with him, being able to be behind him and learn from him. A guy that has been to a couple of Pro Bowls, has been All-Pro a couple times already. To be able to learn from a guy like that has meant so much to me, whether we're on field, whether we're in drills, whatever it is, in the film room.

"I can always ask him a question. If we're at home, I can always shoot him a text if I see something. So just being able to have a guy like that, a vet like that, it means a lot to me. His impact on me was huge and tremendous. And that's probably an understatement, honestly. I'm excited to learn from him throughout this offseason as well. And then whenever we get back and get things going for Year 2."

Fitzpatrick was among the many who was impressed with the growth and development of Norwood this past year, a seventh-round draft pick who played in all 17 regular season games, starting three.

"Tre is a guy I'm really excited about," said Fitzpatrick. "He came in right away and you could tell he had an IQ for the game. You could tell he loves the game. He's very coachable. Whenever I was in the game, on the field in practice, I would look at him. I would try to coach him up, make sure he was groomed the right way and took him under my wing.

"He's stepped up every week. He's a guy that's definitely going to be beneficial for us in the future. He has nothing but a bright future ahead of him."