Steelers' rookies got their first taste of the NFL on Friday when the team began their rookie mini-camp.
"It feels good," said running back Chris Rainey. "It's still a dream come true. It feels like I am still in the dream. I am looking around thinking is this really the NFL? Yes it is and I am just having a blast."
The players went through drills in shorts and jerseys in the morning, with temperatures more like those during training camp at St. Vincent College than early May.
"It's nice to be able to practice and play football again and have a team, a group of guys here," said guard David DeCastro. "It's a whole new process. We went through long individual periods and then two short team periods. It was pretty good."
One thing the rookies did notice is the pace of practice is different from what many of them were used to in college.
"Everything is more up-tempo," said wide receiver Toney Clemons. "The pace is faster. The preparation for it is different. The drills are different, everything is full speed. They don't waste time here and they don't waste reps. You have to make the most of your reps when you get them. That's the mindset you have to have every practice.
"That is the biggest difference making the transition from a college player trying to be a pro player. If you made mistakes in college they would slow it down, restart periods. But judging how things went here I don't think they will be doing that. I get to come out here and see what it is like to work like the pros work and do it in a great facility with a great organization."
The rookies aren't wasting a minute of time learning their playbook either. A portion was introduced to them before practice and they immediately dove into it, knowing it's going to take a lot of time to learn it completely.
"It's something I feel like I can pick up and learn with time, practice and studying," said Clemons. "You can't just open it and know it. You have to study it. You have to know more than you knew in college."
DeCastro came out to practice wearing a number that one of the great guards in Steelers history wore – Alan Faneca's No. 66.
"He is one of those guys you looked up to when you were in high school and college and watching him play," said DeCastro. "I liked the number and wanted to pick it."
DeCastro, who said he doesn't feel any added pressure wearing the number as being a number one pick comes with pressure in itself, wouldn't mind talking to Faneca one day for some advice.
"He would be a pretty good person to talk to," said DeCastro. "I think he knows what he is doing."
One rookie has already talked to a player he looks up to, something he said will help his adjustment to the Steelers.
Troy Polamalu called nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu after he was drafted, welcoming the fellow Samoan to the team.
"He represents a lot of the Polynesians, especially on the West Coast," said Ta'amu. "When he called me I didn't think it was really him but then you know his voice from those Head & Shoulders commercials. I was talking to him and it was crazy. I couldn't believe I was talking to somebody a lot of Samoans look up to. I couldn't hold it in. I had to tweet it.
"He was talking about if I need anything hit him up. We are brothers. Just having him out here, and especially him calling me, makes me feel better out here."