After months of preparation, this week, it gets real. The Steelers kick off the season Monday night in Washington, and safety Mike Mitchell likes the direction the defense is headed in.* *
"I feel very good," said Mitchell. "I am nervously optimistic. I don't want to feel too good because I am an older player and I know you have one good performance you can get a false sense of security. We need to stay sharp, we need to stay hard, and we need to stay focused on continuing to develop into being a world championship caliber defense.
"I think we took the right steps, I think we are still taking the right steps. That is a continual process. We are not anywhere close to where we want to be, where we need to be, but we are taking the right steps. We are ahead of where we were last year. With that being said we still need to stay focused and continue our growth."
Mitchell said those steps were aided by a familiarity playing alongside each other.
"We are taking the necessary steps with guys who have played with each other two and three years now," said Mitchell. "We are communicating, and communicating the right things at the right time. There are not as many busts in coverage or drops in our defense. Everyone is playing the same call. The right call. That is what you get when a group is familiar with each other."
Communication was a hot button topic for the defense last season, and Mitchell sees huge growth in that direction. * *"Communication is everything," said Mitchell. "The best defenses are defenses that are always talking. That is what Coach (Keith) Butler says. The best defenses are loud defenses. I think we are becoming that. There is not a thing that happens on the field that someone isn't saying something to someone else. I just want us to continue to stay sharp in that facet, continue to push that and continue to improve on that. We can still get better in that area."
-- Wide receiver Antonio Brown on the offense scoring 30 points a game: "We want to score as many points as needed to win the game. It's all about winning. Thirty points is our goal, but 30 points means nothing if we don't win."
-- Rookie Sean Davis on playing in his hometown of Washington, D.C. on Monday night: "I think 25 people are going to be there. I am going to have a big crowd. Everybody is going to be in Steelers stuff."
- Status Update: OUT - CB Senquez Golson (foot), RB Roosevelt Nix (back), C Cody Wallace (knee), WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder).