Nose tackle Casey Hampton has been a regular in the Steelers weight room and at OTAs so far this offseason. He was even an early arrival on Thursday for the team meeting prior to mini-camp, checking in during the afternoon to get a workout in before getting down to business.
"It's just that time. I am getting older," said Hampton, who is entering his 10th season. "I have to take better care of my body and be ready for the season. It's that hunger of wanting to get back to the playoffs and get back to where we need to be. I need to lead by example and show young guys how it needs to be done."
The work that Hampton has been putting in definitely shows. Teammates are noticing that he is in better shape than past seasons, but Hampton is still working on it.
"I have been in better shape," said Hampton. "I think they are just not used to seeing me around and that is the thing. I am usually not here this time of year."
Another thing that has Hampton focused this offseason is returning to the level of success the Steelers have become accustomed to. Going from winning the Super Bowl one year and missing the playoffs the next year doesn't sit well with the veteran nose tackle.
"You definitely come back with a chip," said Hampton. "That's not us not making the playoffs. That's not acceptable. The veterans on this team and the young guys as well, we see it like that. When we don't make it to the playoffs and the Super Bowl it's always a disappointment. That's something we can't accept."
Cornerback Bryant McFadden was sporting his familiar No. 20 at mini-camp practice. Fellow cornerback Keenan Lewis wore No. 20 last year, but switched to No. 23 after working a deal with McFadden.
"I had to work out something but it was a good deal," said McFadden. "Both sides are happy."
McFadden was acquired in a draft day trade with the Arizona Cardinals, returning to the black and gold one year after he left via free agency.
"It was a little shocking to be traded," said McFadden. "I just really got adjusted out there. I was out there the whole offseason and knowing I was coming back here was shocking at first.
"I am happy to be back in an environment where I had a lot of success individually and as a team. Most importantly all of the guys are pretty much still here. I feel comfortable and confident in that. I am just trying to get some execution done and chemistry back together and get some success."
McFadden ran with the first team in the team's first mini-camp practice,
"It always feels good to feel wanted in anything," said McFadden. "Knowing there was a need to get me back and pick up where I left off felt good."
Quarterback Byron Leftwich started off mini-camp taking snaps with the first team in the morning practice on Friday.
Rookie free agent center A.J. Trump, who played at Miami, was let go before the start of mini-camp.