Maurkice Pouncey has been at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex throughout the offseason, taking part in every aspect of the team's voluntary offseason program.
But things got real for him on Tuesday when he took part in the first OTA session, his first time back on the field in a football-like setting since he suffered an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for the entire year.
"It feels good," said Pouncey. "I love being around the guys. I love football. It all went great."
Pouncey injured his ankle in the first quarter of the Steelers preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Heinz Field. He wasn't ruled out for the season, instead placed on the designated to return list. But Tuesday was the first day he returned to football activity.
"I am full go. I am not missing anything," said Pouncey. "I am ready to come out here and play, each day at a time. I am great now. Everything is good. I appreciate all the doctors and trainers for everything they have done. They did a great job.
"I was ready this offseason to go. I was nowhere near it during the season. I am here now. I am just ready to go out and play."
Pouncey admits it wasn't easy being a spectator last year, and as much as he wanted to return, he knew there was no way the ankle was going to cooperate.
The Steelers participate in Day 1 of the 2016 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
"There was no chance at all," said Pouncey. "It was hard. When you love football, and things happen like that, you just have to look at the bright side of things. I'm just blessed to be out here.
"I missed a lot. Whenever you miss a lot, and you love football, it feels great to be out here."
His excitement for 2016 isn't just based on the fact that he is back healthy, but that the line is back in full strength.
"They did a great job last year," said Pouncey. "I was rooting them on. They kept me involved. They came over every Thursday to watch film. They kept me thinking about the bright side of things. It was good to have them. We are great. A lot of guys have played. A lot of guys are accomplished. I think we do a good job playing well together, and we are ready to keep building each year."
Don't miss SNR's live coverage of OTA's from the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex between 10 a.m.-12 noon on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Listen live on the Steelers Official Mobile App or on Steelers.com.