Ready to hear the pads pop

It's the sound they have been waiting to hear since the 2018 ended. A sound every defensive player loves. A sound that signals football has officially arrived.

On Sunday, that sound will echo through the campus of Saint Vincent College as for the first time Steelers players will put on the pads at training camp.

You will hear the pop of the pads, the crunch, the sound you hear when football players do what they love to do – hit.

"That is what we are looking forward to," said Mike Hilton. "That is a true sign football is around the corner. Guys can really separate themselves and show they are trying to make this team and get ready for the season.

"Just the energy and enthusiasm. Guys are more locked in. The physical part comes alive. It makes practice more fun and entertaining."

Take a look at photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2nd day of training camp

It's like that Christmas morning feeling for the guys, some of who made sure they are ready to go this afternoon by getting plenty of rest last night.

"I am looking forward to it," said Sean Davis. "I got a good night's sleep to get ready for it.

"Today comes with the intensity Coach (Mike) Tomlin instills in us. Both sides are always competing. You never want to be the nail, you want to be the hammer. The emphasis is going to be running around after it. I am looking forward to it.

"We are trying to build a World Championship team. It starts today."

Veteran free agent Mark Barron said he is ready to take the next step after spending all of the offseason practicing in shorts and helmets.

"It always heightens the level of competition," said Barron. "It's always a fun day, the first day of pads. It's when football gets more real. When you are out there in shorts, most of the time offense has the advantage. When you put the pads on, it evens the playing field.

"It's always been one of my favorite things."

Joe Haden said the player he is most anxious to see put the pads on is rookie linebacker Devin Bush, the team's No. 1 draft pick.

"He is my guy," said Haden. "He is a linebacker. Physicality. Being able to cover. Being able to hit running backs. With the linemen, when you don't have any equipment it's friendly, working together. With the pads on you can see how good he is.

"I expect a little bit of everything from him. I expect him to be able to cover, be physical. I expect a lot out of him. At the same time he expects a lot out of himself. Just to see his physicality. I can't wait to see his running, coverage and hitting."