When Leonard Pope made his free agent visit to the Steelers this past offseason, one of the first things he noticed was the six Super Bowl trophies lined up in the team's library.
"I looked at all six," said Pope. "That is the first thing I saw when I went upstairs. That is something I personally want to be a part of and go down in history with these guys."
Pope was so close to being a part of a Super Bowl winning team when he played for the Arizona Cardinals, but came up short when the Steelers defeated the Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII. Pope remembers what the feeling was like watching Steelers players celebrate, seeing the trophy handed to them and then watching the confetti flying down.
When he first met with Coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert, he told them flat out he wanted to be "on the other side of the confetti." He wanted to win a Super Bowl, and felt signing with the Steelers was his best option to do that.
"When you are playing the Steelers that is one team I always knew we had to buckle up our chin straps," said Pope. "We knew they were going to bring it. This is a special group of people. Coach Tomlin, you listen to him, the way he speaks, he is well respected.
"I know the feeling to lose the Super Bowl. We have the right type of people and the coaching staff and organization here that winning it can be done again. Everything I thought the Pittsburgh Steelers would be and everything I thought I would be surrounding myself around, this is it. I clearly see why the Steelers are so successful and have been the last couple of years."
Defensive end Ziggy Hood prides himself on being the strongest player on the team, but this year he is also focusing on speed and agility, working with a personal trainer during the offseason to improve in those areas.|
"I sat back and evaluated myself after the season," said Hood. "I found out I play better when I feel good. When I don't feel good, I don't play as well. I went back and watched all of the tape, saw what I did positive and negative. I thought what better way to help my speed and agility is to lose body fat so that is what I have been focusing on. When you feel sluggish, you are not in the best shape. You can be big and lean and still do the job correctly. If you feel good, you feel better."
Hood has been wearing a six-pound weighted vest during OTAs, something he picked up his rookie year after watching James Harrison do the same thing.
"I have been doing it ever since to keep my body in shape," said Hood. "It makes you better, faster so when you come to training camp it will make you better. It's all about speed and technique right now. I am going to do what I do and try to stay fast.
"It's a new prototype (of defensive linemen). All that big and looking sloppy is out the window. We come in here and we are sexy now."