Players don't mind physical approach

Steelers' practices have taken on a new tone during training camp, with live hitting in team drills becoming commonplace this year.

And the players don't seem to mind it one bit.

"I think it's great," said receiver Antonio Brown. "It establishes a tough mentality and gets us ready for this year.

"We have a lot of young guys. To judge them and evaluate them you want to see them be physical and build that toughness. It's a great time to establish it and I think we are doing a great job of doing it the right way."

Steve McLendon is getting a good taste of what he will face this season as the team's starting nose tackle just by going up against the offensive line in the contact drills.

"I need to get ready and prepare at the highest level," said McLendon. "It's a great help to me and the other defensive linemen, and the offensive linemen too.

"You can feel the difference because of the pressure we are putting on the body. It's football and we need it."

McLendon said the hitting now will do nothing but help them when the preseason begins on Saturday, Aug. 10 against the New York Giants at Heinz Field.

"If you can get the hitting on now, by the time you get to the game you are going to be more physical," said McLendon. "When we have been so physical with our own teammates, come game day we can take the pain and frustration out on our opponent and it won't be as tough on us because we have done it all camp."

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who said he is feeling good after the first week of camp, doesn't mind the change and thinks younger players are adapting just fine.

"Younger guys are used to it," said Woodley. "Coming out of college you did that every day. Those guys don't know any different. To them it's all the same.

"We are doing more hitting than usual, but I know what to expect and just go out there and do it."

The players aren't certain if the contact will continue as camp goes on, but like what they have seen so far.

"It's getting guys fighting harder because they don't want to look bad on tape, let their guy make the tackle or give up any plays," said Brown. "You are being evaluated on your physicality, so you have to do it."

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