A little bit of this, and a little bit of that as the Steelers prepare to take on the Bengals.
Staying in line:** The Steelers offensive line is coming off of an impressive performance against the Washington Redskins, paving the way for running back Le'Veon Bell to rush for 143 yards and a total of 147 yards rushing by the team.
That strong play is going to have to continue this week against a formidable Bengals defense.
"Our job is to make sure our running backs do well in the run and protect Ben (Roethlisberger)," said guard Ramon Foster. "We have to follow the performance up. I am sure they are going to be aiming at stopping us in the run game. We just have to do our job."
The Bengals defensive line brings a combination of size and athletic ability that will test the offensive line, but they are always up for a test.
"They have a great front," said center Maurkice Pouncey. "They have great pass rushers, even the guys inside know how to pass rush and get up the field. The linebackers are aggressive. They play well together. We just have to get ready to play football."
One of the best: Bengals receiver A.J. Green put on a show last week in a win against the New York Jets, catching 12 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.
"He presents a big challenge," said safety Robert Golden. "He is one of the best receivers in the league. He has a way of getting a lot of separation and has a big catch radius. If we are on the details of our work, we will be able to do well against him."
Home sweet home:** The Steelers host the Bengals on Sunday in their home opener, and players are excited to be back in front of Steelers Nation.
"We love to get out there in front of Heinz Field, in front of Steelers Nation, in a true home game," said linebacker Arthur Moats. "We turn our away games into home games as well, but when you are at Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh, there is nothing better than that, so we are extremely excited."
And to be playing an AFC North rival in the first home game, well that's what it's all about.
"It's going to be packed," said wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. "I love it. And the fact that it's going to be against a division rival is huge. We went from a five-star match up on Monday night and now we have one on Sunday. Cincinnati is hard-hitting, ready to go, can score a lot of points with the offense and the defense is stout. I love these kinds of matchups, early in the season, gets your team ready to go, you get tested to see where you are. And to have it at home is great."
On the other side: Cornerback Justin Gilbert will be experiencing his first game at Heinz Field in a Steelers uniform, but it won't be his first game at Heinz Field. Gilbert was acquired via a trade from the Cleveland Browns, and his first NFL game was the season-opener in 2014 when the Steelers beat the Browns, 30-27, at Heinz Field. Gilbert is now looking forward to having Steelers Nation on his side.
"It was a totally different feeling then," said Gilbert. "Being in this uniform, being on this side of the organization, it's going to be a totally different feeling. I am excited to see what the fans are like supporting this team. I am excited and ready for it.
"You knew when you saw those towels waving they were getting momentum or up in the game. Late in the game, it usually meant the game was over. I want to see them spinning as much as they can now that I am on this side. I want to see them spinning early and often."
Success builds rivalries: The rivalry between the Steelers and the Bengals, as well as other AFC North ones against the Ravens and Browns, aren't anything new. They were built from the success of Steelers teams in the past, and that isn't lost on today's players.
"Hats off to the legends that have played here before," said Foster. "That is why they do it, because we have had so much success, six Super Bowl wins. We kind of have a target on our back. We are not a group that runs from that. We welcome that, we get excited for it."