Players are back to work

It's the day that Garrett Giemont has had circled on his calendar since the 2018 season ended.

April 15.

And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that his taxes, and everyone else's, are due today.

"No question I circle the date," said Giemont. "I can hardly wait to get that calendar out. It's fun."

Today is the start of a new season for the Steelers and for Giemont and Marcel Pastoor, they are the ones who will be leading the charge for Phase One of the offseason program.

"It's definitely time to get back to work," said Giemont. "When you get all the energy of the group together with the understanding that a date has turned over on the calendar that allows us to focus on the 2019 season and our quest to go ahead and add another Lombardi upstairs, that is exciting and always will be. That is the reality behind our quest and moving forward for this year.

"Unfortunately we didn't make the playoffs so we had an extended period of not being together, and not being around one another. With Phase One starting it's a great opportunity to get all of the players back in town, get them started, get them tested, get all the baseline stuff for this year and get back to work."

Players return to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex today for Phase One, which is a two-week period limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only. And that is where Giemont, the team's conditioning coordinator, and Pastoor, the conditioning assistant, come in to play. They are the only ones permitted to work with the players, with the focus mainly in the weight room and on the field with running and conditioning.

"The first two weeks are with the strength and conditioning staff. That is what they are allowed to do," said Giemont. "This is the prep phase, getting ready for football in case someone hasn't been working out. You get them moving, lifting, you test them, find out where they are and then you bleed into Phase Two."

The testing that is done is mainly to find out what condition players are in, to see what benefits they got from working out on their own all offseason and where they need to work.

"When they come in, it's about a week long to 10 day process that we get bod pods on them so we know what their body fat is," explained Giemont. "We do tests that will tell us what is going on with their prior training, if they have been front side dominant, back side dominant, or need groomed and cleaned up. It will tell us where they are and what we need to focus on. Then we will do our ACTIVE testing which is isolated muscle testing for the hamstring, the chest, the back, the adductors, we'll find out where they are from that standpoint. Once you put those together you can give the player good information about what they have done to get here and what it looks like when they got here. It really helps.

"When you look at it you look at everyone's strengths and weaknesses. Some people need to lose body fat, some people need to gain a little vocational fat. When you take a look at what their needs are to be the best player than can possibly be, that is what you are trying to accomplish once these guys get here. We have these conversations with the coaching staff saying this player needs to get better at this particular thing and this player needs to get better doing that specific thing. Sometimes when you go to your own guy in the offseason, they are trying to do different things. Once you get back to the football entity we are trying to laser beam their conditioning, what they have done prior and focus it what they need to do to be a better football player for the Steelers. Once we get them back in there we can get them focused on the football aspect of it. I call it the difference between working out and training."

During Phase One players are allowed to be at the facility for a limited time and the strength and conditioning staff can be on the field with the players, doing running, things that are strength and conditioning only. In addition, kickers are permitted to kick and quarterbacks can throw.

"It's about preparing the legs of the kickers and the arms of the quarterbacks to get ready for Phase Two football when the installation starts," said Giemont. "As long as there are no coaches who coach football out there, just strength and conditioning coaches, you can be out there."

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