LATROBE, Pa. - When the horn sounds to start practice this afternoon, Ryan Shazier will be among those smiling. And he won't be alone.
Because when that horn sounds, football starts for real.
Wednesday will be the first time the Steelers don the pads since the 2014 season ended and Shazier is among those who can't wait to put them back on.
"Me, Vince Williams, Lawrence Timmons, every day we keep talking about how excited we are to get the pads on," said Shazier. "Everyone is talking so much we are excited to get going."
The Steelers first two days of practice were basically an extension of the team's OTAs and minicamps. It was practice in shorts, no hitting, no contact, and for defensive players that sometimes means no fun.
"The intensity changes when the pads come on," said Shazier. "We were still a little rusty the first few practices. We all feel in great condition. When you get the pads on, all of the rust is out of the way and you just have fun.
"I love hearing the first crunch. Everyone has jitters, but when you get your first hit, you just have fun."
During the Steelers night practice on Friday, July 31, the team will host a food drive to benefit the Westmoreland County Food Bank, collecting non-perishable food donations. Giant Eagle has pledged again this year to match the number of pounds collected at the drive, and donations will double as a result. Please visit www.westmorelandfoodbank.org for more information.
The Pittsburgh Steelers participated in their second practice in front of fans at Saint Vincent College. This is the final practice before pads go on.