By Teresa Varley
It was back to work on Monday for about 25 Steelers players as voluntary offseason workouts kicked off at the team's practice facility at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex.
Players are not required to attend and for the most part it is the younger players who didn't see as much playing time during the 2008 season who are on hand to get things started and get a jump on preparation.
"It's great to be back," said second-year linebacker Bruce Davis. "The season was long and grueling. You say I can't wait to win the Super Bowl and then go on vacation. Vacation was great, but it's a little overrated. There is nothing like being with your guys, the guys you work with, go out on the field and play with. It's great to be back and see all of the guys.
"I am so happy to be back. I was starting to get bored on vacation. My mind was starting to wander. I was on the beach in Los Angeles and in Miami and I'm thinking about the cold weather in Pittsburgh and getting back to my teammates."
There were a few veterans, though, that were on hand including linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.
"Having James Harrison here was fantastic," said conditioning coordinator Garrett Giemont. "He has great leadership. To have him here with the young guys is a great start."
This is the first time the players have had any kind of formal workouts since the Super Bowl and Giemont stresses the importance of it to the young guys who are looking to make an impression this year.
"Any time you have an extended period away from the players it's great to get them back and get them focused on a new year," said Giemont. "We played deep into the month of January and into February. What we want to do with the offseason program is bring some of the younger guys in who didn't get as many snaps as the other guys and get their bodies moving. You want to get them back into a rhythm and pattern with consistency. "
A typical day starts at 9 a.m. with stretching and warm-ups. There is a daily running program that varies by position and player. That is followed by angular movement and the core program.
"Not only are you getting physical work, but you are getting that mental preparation of consistency in how you go about your business on a day-to-day basis," said Giemont. "We do the angular movement where you break it down into what they are going to be doing in just a month's time from now when we start our organized team activities. We will start that slow to get the muscles prepared to go through the OTA's."
There is also weight work, but not the typical bench press and the like for the first week. Instead of lifting in the weight room the work is done in the indoor facility with sleds and medicine balls.
"The bottom line is you always want to get better at your craft, whether you are a guy who had a 1,000 plays this year or a guy who didn't play too many plays," said Giemont. "No matter what you are doing you want to improve on your craft. What this does for the younger people is give them a chance to start the process, get your consistency back and learn what being a pro is all about."
For someone like Davis, who spent some of his time away from the beach working out, it just felt good to be back to work and there were no aches and pains after the first day.
"I didn't want to go and not do anything while off," said Davis. "I worked out and stayed in shape with my old college roommate and some of the guys I played ball with. I felt great. It's good to get that first sweat in when you come back for workout."