A little bit of this, and a little bit of that as the Steelers prepare to take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night at Heinz Field.
It's still football: Rookie Demarcus Ayers said the biggest thing he learned from his first NFL game, is it's still the same game he has been playing since he was a kid.
"It's just football," said Ayers. "You think about it and you always dream about being in the NFL. You experience that from the sideline to start. You see the veteran guys out there flying around making plays. Then going out there and doing it myself after watching the veteran guys, and seeing myself on film, it's an unbelievable experience. I had so much fun."
Strong bond:** Defensive ends Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward are a formidable tandem for the Steelers defensive line, and much of that is because of the strong bond the two have on the field and friendship off the field.
"When you play with a defensive line you have to be comfortable with each other because you feed off each other," said Tuitt. "The best way to get to the quarterback is by knowing the person you rush with, what he is going to do and him knowing what you are going to do. We have formed a brotherhood with the defensive line and that is a key for us." Hall of Fame all-around: Offensive line coach Mike Munchak was impressed with former Steelers guard Alan Faneca when he scouted him coming out of college, and after having Faneca work with the coaching staff since OTAs, he is even further impressed.
Munchak, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is among those who believe Faneca, who was a finalist last year, should be in the Hall of Fame.
"When I looked at him in college, I knew he was special," said Munchak. "When the Steelers drafted him I knew they got someone special. You keep an eye on guys like that who you watched. We played the Steelers and I watched him play. He fit into this mentality, the offense here. He could do it all. He was tough, mean, a big finish guy. He got better year after year. He did that for a long time. I liked his demeanor. It was like the great ones who played the game. His effort, his finish, he could pull. He could do all of those things. He was a great fit and had a great career. He went to Pro Bowls, All Pros and it was obvious he was one of the best at his position.
"To talk to him now and see his passion for the game, it's fun for me to learn some things from him, how he approached the game. He was pat of the tradition in Pittsburgh and had a lot of success and knew how to get the job done on Sunday."
No place like home: Linebacker Ryan Shazier is pumped for Thursday's preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field, because as he said anytime you get to play in front of Steelers Nation it's a great thing.
"There is no place like home," said Shazier. "The fans are there every game giving everything they've got just like we are. We wouldn't be able to play as well without them having our backs. It's amazing having other teams come into the stadium and make them uncomfortable."