The Steelers offseason winds up on Thursday morning with the final practice of minicamp, and after about two months the team has accomplished what Coach Mike Tomlin had set his sights on.
"Our goals have been simple and they are to lay a foundation for our football team here in 2013," said Tomlin. "Obviously, our goals are what they are and that is to be World Champions. I think we've done a nice job in terms of laying a foundation, individually and collectively, towards that goal."
Tomlin was realistic about what he has seen from some of the rookies in OTAs and minicamp, knowing the evaluation process will not begin until training camp when the pads come on.
"We could trick ourselves into believing something that would be untrue," said Tomlin. "Football is a game that's played in pads, so I'm not going to rush to judge or search for things to grasp onto at this time of year. They come here, they work hard and they're legitimately humble. They're taking the information being given to them from coaches and guys that have been a part of this thing. That's a great place to begin."
Safety Troy Polamalu remembers the days he relied on veterans to give him tips, and now he is returning the favor for some of the team's young safeties, including rookie Shamarko Thomas.
"I learned a lot from other players," said Polamalu. "He wants to learn the defense. I told him I would watch other safeties in the NFL and what they did and try to incorporate that into my game."
Polamalu said the one thing he has to be careful of is being patient and not overwhelming them from the get-go.
"A lot of the times I try to point out too much too soon to a lot of the players," said Polamalu. "It's like trying to teach algebra to basic math. You've got to almost erase their career and what they've learned to this point and start anew with this defense."
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau stressed the importance of the defense creating more turnovers when he spoke on Wednesday, and Polamalu knows that there are ways they can achieve that, but the main thing is by taking advantage of opportunities that come their way.
"You have to be ball aware," said Polamalu. "Everything stems from pressure and disguise. We have to pressure quarterbacks into making bad decisions by doing that. You've got to hit them and get at the quarterback. We have to get a better pass rush, we have to cover the one to three seconds better and let guys work that are blitzing. We have to win one-on-one matchups in order to do that.
"When it comes down to it, when we get opportunities we have to seize them. We got our hands on a lot of balls last year. Hopefully, we'll be able to seize those opportunities this year."
Tackle Mike Adams, who has been recovering from injuries suffered when he was stabbed in a robbery attempt, watched the team's minicamp practice on Wednesday.
"We expect Mike to be here," said Tomlin. "He had an appointment today. The appointment went well. He's just continuing to take steps to get back out on the field."