Mike Mitchell has noticed the infusion of youth into the Steelers' secondary, and he intends to lead as never before while trying to help to get the new guys up to speed as quickly as possible.
The Steelers participate in Day 4 of the 2016 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
"Me and 'Deuce-Deuce' (cornerback William Gay, No. 22) will definitely have to take a big-time leadership role, but I've been asking for this for at least two years now," Mitchell said. "'Coach T' (head coach Mike Tomlin) is finally going to let me do that.
"I'm in my third year now in the system so it's really something I look forward to. We're talking about how (defensive end) Cam (Heyward) brought along (defensive end Stephon) Tuitt, that's how I plan to try to help bring around our young guys."
It's a new role and one Mitchell is ready, willing an able to embrace heading into his third season with the Steelers.
"It's something that you earn," he said. "You definitely don't do it as the new guy. I was kind of more silent my first year and kinda tried to do it by example last year, I tried to speak up a little bit more.
"But now, talking to the leadership, it's my time, it's my group. Me and Will Gay will be in control. We're the oldest guys in the room, that's expected. I'm in my third year of this system, I pretty much have it down. And now I'm ready to really mentor and try to pass on the knowledge that I have to our younger players, because that's what it's about being a Steeler."
How quickly players such as cornerbacks Artie Burns (this year's No. 1 pick) and Senquez Golson (last year's No. 2) and safety Sean Davis (this year's No. 2) are able to assimilate will dictate how much they can contribute.
But Mitchell has already noticed a competitive atmosphere in the secondary that ought to pay dividends no matter how it eventually plays out in terms of how the playing time is ultimately handed out.
"The way we do business here positions are always won and lost," Mitchell said. "Some positions could be won and lost week to week, depending on how tight the competition is. We always have a lot of competition here because we have so many good players on this roster.
"I can honestly say I played for two other organizations; man, we're deep at every position. If you're not on it, there's a young, hungry guy right there ready to take it from you.
"I think it creates a good, competitive nature within the group, within the team. Everyone's working every day to try to sharpen our sword because we always have the battle coming. That's why it's important for me and Will Gay to really try to help these guys along. I've been spending a lot of time and I've been in the building with Sean, just trying to bring him a long as fast as we can, something I wish I would have had when I was in Oakland.
"That's how we do it here in Pittsburgh, everyone mentors each other. When I first got here I had (safety) Troy (Polamalu) and (cornerback) Ike (Taylor), it doesn't get any better than that. And then last year I had Will Allen really helping bring me the rest of the way along. And that's what I want to do for these guys."
So Mitchell will lead in 2016.
It'll be up to the new guys to follow.
"As far as their development and how fast they grow, I really think that's up to them," Mitchell said. "How much time are they really willing to put in to perfect their craft? Hopefully they're watching how we work and how we study and they'll gain those same attributes."