It was back to work for the Steelers on Tuesday at the first day of OTAs at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side, and it was a packed house, with the majority of the veterans on hand.
"It's awesome to be here out, see all of the smiles again, run around with all of the guys, it was a good time," said center Maurkice Pouncey. "Everybody is more locked in now, more organized."
While players have been permitted to workout at the facility, this was the first day of everyone working together.
"It was a great day one," said wide receiver Antonio Brown. "We are off to a great start. This is the foundation for 2012. This is where we begin to build it. We are getting in game mode. Camp is right around the corner. It's the time of year when you start to build for the season."
Among those there was safety Troy Polamalu, who normally works out on his own during the offseason but plans on participating throughout OTAs.
"We had a lot of our major leadership leave, people we could count on," said Polamalu. "I think it's nice for the young guys to see a familiar face and honestly to get myself better. It's nice to be around the team here today, nice to see the guys again and get out and play some football."
One of the leaders Polamalu was referring to who isn't back is inside linebacker James Farrior. Farrior not only has been a leader off the field, but has been the signal-caller for the defense, a role that will be taken over by linebacker Larry Foote.
"I know I can hold my own," said Foote. "I have always been one of the leaders on this team. We have a whole bunch of leaders. You can't replace a James Farrior. Everybody has to just step up. The bottom line in this league is you have to do your job, period, I don't care who you are."
Foote knows the Steelers defense will continue to thrive no matter who is on the field, but said he still misses having Farrior around from a friendship standpoint.
"It's changing. It's different," said Foote. "I am meeting new people, different conversations. That is the way it is in this league. We knew this day would come but we had to make the most of it.
"It feels good to be back. You miss these guys. It's good seeing these guys, being back in Pittsburgh."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got his first chance to run Todd Haley's offense on Tuesday, one that has him staying in the pocket more to try and avoid hits. He said it's still going to take some getting used to.
"It's frustrating," said Roethlisberger. "You put high expectations on yourself. I know all of the quarterbacks do. It gets frustrating at times. We keep learning. It's day one. We will get in the book and try to be a little better tomorrow. We just keep plugging away at it see where it goes."
Roethlisberger said in some ways it's like being a rookie again, learning things from scratch.
"I tried to tell the receivers don't get frustrated because I know you guys are used to getting a lot more balls," said Roethlisberger. "This is how it was my rookie year. I know what one guy does and I go to him and if he's not open start scrambling.
"It's going to be a challenge but that's what makes it fun."