LATROBE, Pa. - The Steelers reported to training camp on Saturday, hit the practice fields on Sunday and Monday, but football truly begins today. Because today is the day the pads come on.
"That is how the game is played. With pads on," said safety Rob Golden. "You don't know where you are until the pads come on. You never, ever know where you are until the pads come on. I know a lot of guys are excited about it and glad it's here."
All through OTAs and minicamp, and for the start of training camp, it was what Coach Mike Tomlin likes to refer to as 'football in shorts.' But when the team takes the field on Wednesday afternoon, the pads will be popping, crunching will be heard, and yes, it will truly be football.
"We are defensive guys. That is what we do best, hit," said defensive end Stephon Tuitt. "The anticipation and how long we have been waiting. You can't wait for the day you put the pads on. This is what we do.
"Right now I want to hit."
He isn't the only one feeling that way.
"That is where the game is played at, in pads," said Golden. "Coach Tomlin is going to have some live drills for us and we are going to be ready and see where we are at. We are going to have room for improvement and we are ready to get better.
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.
"We are ready to hit."
Rookie Bud Dupree went through the first two days of camp happy with how things turned out, but he too can't wait for the pads and drills that pit the linebackers against the running backs and tight ends.
"I love it," said Dupree. "It's a great opportunity to go out there and be physical and make sure we are good."
There are going to be plenty watching Dupree, as well as other young players, to see how they fare with the pads on. One of those will be veteran linebacker James Harrison.
"I want to see hitting," said Harrison. "I want to see a nasty demeanor."
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.