Offseason program kicks into another gear

The Steelers offseason program kicked into another gear on Monday with Phase Two of it officially underway.

The second phase continues with the weight room and conditioning that Phase One was limited to, and expands as coaches are now permitted to work with the players for individual instruction and position drills, with no offense vs. defense team drills permitted. This is the first time coaches can also hold short position meetings.

"Being able to get with the coaches in general after being away from them for so long is a plus," said cornerback Cortez Allen. "They spent a lot of time looking at us individually to let us know what we need to work on, where we need to improve, so to finally get a chance to work with them and work on those areas is good for us.

"It's been a while since we have been in a playbook, been in a football classroom. It's good to refresh our memory and also tweak the little things we do, changes in how we play or the techniques we use. It's a good jump start for us."

There are a mix of veterans and young players taking part in Phase Two, something that is beneficial for those just learning the ropes and veterans who are taking advantage of the refresher course.

"You get refreshed and look at a couple more plays. I was at the house on Sunday thinking, 'Do I remember the plays," running back Isaac Redman joked. "But it comes right back to you. It helps to be here.

"It's like being in a classroom. The fewer students in the classroom, the more one-on-one time you get with the teacher and the easier it is to learn. The more you can get with the coaches now, before 80 players are here, the better off you will be. I tell these guys to soak up as much as possible now. It's a lot easier to grasp things and understand what to do before you have a whole bunch of guys here."

Cornerback Ike Taylor, who works out with his own trainer during the offseason, was at the team's practice facility on Monday encouraging younger players to do as much as they can to get ready for OTAs that begin May 21.

"It's good for them to get a feel for each other on the field, get to know each other and see how they move," said Taylor. "You can do that stuff early, do it now. When you get on the field for the OTAs, coaches will be telling you what to do, but this is a stepping stone. You want to know what to do without the coaches telling you. It shows the coaches you are willing and capable and you are being responsible."

Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has been participating in the offseason program since the get-go, and was excited on Monday to take it to the next level.

"This is what you wait for, what you are trying to prepare for," said Gradkowski. "Any time you can get with the receivers, the running backs and the coaches and start talking football it's exciting. That is when you feel like we are getting closer. It's always great to get around the coaches and gain more knowledge. The more knowledge you can gain, the better off you are.

"It's good to get around the guys and get back at it football-wise."

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