Feeling comfortable: It's been just over two months since the Steelers signed quarterback Mitch Trubisky, and on Tuesday he took the field for the team's first OTA session, getting a feel for his new team.
"It feels good to be in the black and gold," said Trubisky from the locker room. "I thought we played fast out there. Just great to be back on the field with the boys, going through everything, playing pitch-catch on the field and just being out there. It's an exciting time of year and we're just trying to get better every day."
Exciting, yes, because it's the return of football. But it's also a time to learn, and that includes Trubisky, who will be entering his sixth season. He has been working out throughout the entire offseason, learning the playbook and so forth, which is giving him a level of comfort.
"I feel very comfortable," said Trubisky. "I think the staff and the guys around me have just done a great job. Being in the books, studying and picking things up really quickly. I feel very comfortable with it.
"We've kind of installed everything and then we're going to go through and find out what fits us and the offense, me specifically, and then the rest of the quarterback room so we're just having those conversations. But it's been a good installation period and I'm really enjoying the offense so far."
The quarterback room is one that is garnering a lot of attention right now, with Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett and Chris Oladokun all working together. The battle is now underway to not replace but win the starting job after Ben Roethlisberger retired in the offseason after a Hall of Fame career.
"We got two young guys and two vets," said Trubisky. "There's a lot of ongoing conversations. We're all learning the offense kind of for the first time together.
"We're just pushing each other, competing and it's been a good quarterback room so far. I'm really enjoying it.
"You're not going to replace a Hall of Famer. You got to come in and be yourself and take it one day at a time. I'm just trying to be me. But you also have that huge respect for the people that came before you. And I have the ultimate respect for Ben and what he's done here. Obviously, Hall of Famer, two Super Bowls, and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to continue his legacy. Win another Super Bowl. And just keep wanting to get better and build every day."
Trubisky said as far as what his role is, he just is happy to be out there practicing and working.
"I go where they tell me and we're just competing," said Trubisky. "So, whoever rolls out there first, I take my reps and we're here to build and get better every day. We're going to get reps with everybody at some point. It's all about just doing your best work when you're on the field and competing."
More from Mitch:
On the difficult schedule early on for the Steelers, with two AFC North opponents in the first three games:
"It's the NFL. You got to be on your P's and Q's every single week. There are no easy games in the NFL. You got to bring it week in and week out. You got to know your stuff. It starts right here in OTAs. We just got to continue to prepare and get better every day. Push each other. We got to come together as an offense, as a team.
"Our leaders got to continue to step up and when it comes to the season, I mean it's going to be exciting. It's what you want. That's what you asked for as a player, big-time games. We obviously have a tough division. We want as a competitor, to be in those tough games and prove that you can go out there and be the best, do your best."
On if he was surprised the team drafted Pickett in the first round:
"I really wasn't surprised. We're happy to have him and look forward to working with him. I knew coming into the situation, just even coming from here from last year, wherever I was going to go I was going to have to come in compete, earn the trust of my teammates and get back onto the field with hard work and my talent and just being a leader on this team. We didn't have those conversations (about drafting Pickett), but I knew it was a possibility wherever I went next."
On if he can play free in offensive coordinator Matt Canada's offense:
"We have a lot of good stuff going on. Right now, we're just in the installation period trying to learn it. It's been a lot of fun. The conversations I've had with Coach, and he has with all the guys on offense, we're going to play to our strengths. Once we get to know each other and we find out what the strengths are, that's where this offense will go."
On pressure because of success of players taken after him in his draft class:
"This is the NFL. They're always going to be pressure. Your job is coming out here to win games. That's what I'm trying to do for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm grateful for my path and I'm just happy it landed me here in Pittsburgh."
On life as a new dad:
"It's amazing, awesome. We're just excited to have him and it's been an absolute blessing. Been in the playbook a lot, but any opportunity I get to go home and be with him, it's been absolutely incredible. I love being a dad. My wife is incredible. We're so grateful for our support staff right now and everybody helping us out. Getting a good amount of sleep. So, it's been fun and it's an absolute blessing."
On coming out to the practice field without Dwayne Haskins after his passing last month:
"It's heartbreaking. I think about him every day. When I wake up, step on the field, all those things. He's in our hearts and all we can do is go out there and honor him every day in how we live our lives."
On having dinner with Roethlisberger and his family:
"Ben and his whole family are awesome. They reached out to us, really welcomed me and my wife here to the city. And now my baby boy. We're just excited to be here. It was just so nice of him to open his house and have dinner with him. Just have those conversations and get to know him and everything he's done here has been obviously amazing for the franchise. Just for him to allow me to get to know him and pick his brain and talk about what it means to be a quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It really meant a lot to me, and just have a continuing ongoing relationship with him."
Nothing's changed, everything's changed: Quarterback Mason Rudolph is approaching his fifth spring with the Steelers as he has the previous four, but also aware of an opportunity that hadn't been there before.
"Each year I've been here there's been competition," Rudolph acknowledged after OTA No. 1 today. "I just looked back the other day, there have been a lot of guys, quarterbacks, that have filtered through here. With the opportunity to play this year everyone's going to be competing and trying to put their best foot forward. I'm approaching it like I have the same mindset I had the last four years, every single day, every single rep I get, try to make the best of it and get better."
The difference this time is the quarterbacks assembled for OTAs aren't working to be better just in case. Franchise icon Ben Roethlisberger has retired and QB1 is up for grabs for the first time in almost two decades.
"I'm more excited than the last four years," Rudolph continued. "You knew there was a Hall-of-Fame quarterback in front of you and you were developing, getting better at your position and doing everything you can to be ready in case your number was called. Obviously, it's a bit more realistic this year that it will be called."
The Steelers have added veteran Mitch Trubisky through veteran free agency and No. 1 selection Kenny Pickett through the draft at the position since Roethlisberger departed. Rudolph maintained he expected four quarterbacks to be going to training camp all along.
"I don't think it's disappointing," Rudolph said. "Everything I want is still in front of me. I still have an opportunity to be a starter. I can't control what goes on on the second floor (of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex) but I've been told that and I'm excited to do my best to compete to be the guy. Everyone gets motivation from different places. I'd be lying if I said it didn't motivate. That's going to motivate any competitor."
Trubisky has more in-helmet experience and Pickett is a higher draft pick, but Rudolph's association with the Steelers is measured in years, not months or days.
"This is going into my fifth spring here, so experience is a big advantage," he said. "Just comfortability with the building, with Pittsburgh, with my teammates and our offense, yes it is."
That offense is transitioning away from Roethlisberger. But what second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada has in mind agrees with Rudolph's game.
"I'm not going to speak to last year," Rudolph said. "There's some new stuff. Yes, I think Matt Canada's offense does fit my skill set."
An opportunity to "step up a little bit more this year and kind of be vocal," also appeals to Rudolph at the outset of OTAs.
"We're a young offense and there's a lot of young guys that need to step up and that have stepped up from a leadership perspective," he said. "I'm excited to do that."