The turnout at the Steelers practice facility on Monday would make you think it was mid-season and not just Phase One of the offseason program, with players packing the weight room to officially begin workouts.
"It's definitely good to be back," said receiver Marcus Wheaton. "It's like coming back to school. I am glad to be in Pittsburgh. I am excited for football. It's been a while. We are starting to work now."
Phase One is the first two weeks of the offseason program, and under the Collective Bargaining Agreement limits the players to strength and conditioning activities only. But that was enough for the great turnout.
"It's great to be back. We get to see friends. I am just happy to be back, seeing the boys, seeing the family," said tackle Kelvin Beachum. "We are pushing each other more, holding each other accountable. We know what we did last year. We know what we want to get this year. It's good to be back and have everyone on the same page and everybody working towards the same goal and direction."
Players were greeting each other in the locker room, some who have never met before, others who just hadn't seen each other since last season ended. And from everyone, you could see genuine enthusiasm to be back at it.
"It's great to be back, get around everybody. We are happy to get started," said safety Rob Golden. "It's about getting around each other, building that camaraderie. It's like the first day of school. You are happy to be back, around your teammates and getting ready for the season."
This portion of the offseason program is especially beneficial to some of the younger players, including second-year receiver Dri Archer who was preparing for the NFL Draft at this time last year.
"It's always good when you get a year under your belt, you know what you are doing, what to expect when you come in," said Archer. "The offseason you have the chance to work harder, get better, and come in here and get an early start with the other guys.
"It's always good to see everybody again. It's been a while since the season was over. It's time to see faces and get back to work. The atmosphere here in Pittsburgh is always about business so it's time to get back to work."
The Steelers are back at work for Phase One of the offseason program.
While some players just arrived on Monday, others have been at the facility almost daily working in the weight room on their own. Defensive end Cam Heyward has been a regular since the season ended, doing everything in his power to be ready.
"This way I was ready for Phase One," said Heyward. "Everyone knows the first part is showing part, but the other part is being ready to go. As a team we have all taken that approach so we are not playing catch up when everyone is here.
"It's good to see young guys here. It shows they are hungry. A lot of guys want to get better from the year they had. We are all trying to improve. We understand you can't be satisfied in this business. You have to get better every time you get on the field. We were 11-5 last year, but we are not there yet. We want to start off better this year.
"It's good to get as many guys in here as possible. We need to all become closer as a team. Each team is different. Whoever is here we are going to have a chance to get better."
Guard David DeCastro has also been around much of the offseason, but is happy to have some of his fellow offensive linemen back in town working out.
"It's awesome to be back, getting back in the swing of things," said DeCastro. "It's nice to take some time off and let your body and mind heal up. I love being back here, back in the facility, being around the guys and working out together and pushing each other.
"We have such a close knit group. It's fun to just hang out and joke with each other while getting some work in. It's the best of both worlds. Everyone loves coming in. It's your job, but it doesn't feel like it and that's what you want."