Stephon Tuitt has come a long way since he first stepped onto the field as a rookie last season, but the Steelers defensive end is the first to admit he still has a ways to go.
"I have made some progress, but I am in my second year and I still have a lot to learn," said Tuitt. "I am with a group of great guys and have a coach who knows the game from the back of his head to the front of his head. I am here to work hard. I love it and I am here to do what I have to do."
Phase two of the offseason workout program is underway.
Tuitt has benefited greatly from the teaching of John Mitchell, the team's defensive line/assistant head coach. Mitchell has worked with him, and Tuitt admits as a result of that and his practice efforts he was thinking less, reacting more and feeling more comfortable late last season.
"I practice hard," said Tuitt. "From that time on the practice field, that's how it clicked. When you do the same plays over and over again that is when it becomes second nature. That is when it clicked for me and I can say I really started playing."
He finished the 2014 season starting the final four games at right defensive end, a position he plans on holding on to when the 2015 season opener against the New England Patriots rolls around.
"That is my role right now and that is what I am going to do," said Tuitt. "I respect everybody else, but I love my position. I love my role right now and I am going to continue to strive to be better at it."
That work will continue when the team begins OTAs (organized team activities) on Tuesday, followed by minicamp later in June.
"It's going to be very valuable," said Tuitt. "Everything we do is important. I think for me, especially for the team, they will be able to see I did get better, I worked hard, I studied my butt off to make sure I am ready to play for this defense and help the Steelers win some games and the Super Bowl."