Linebacker LaMarr Woodley knows he is going to have to take his game to another level with changes on defense this year, including the absence of defensive leader James Farrior. But taking on a new challenge is nothing new for Woodley.
"Every year is a challenge for me," said Woodley. "Every year I think if I do my job by getting to the quarterback, that helps everybody else out on this team, and we all help each other out. One of my roles is to get to the quarterback and make sure our cornerbacks aren't covering that long."
Woodley's main goal this year is the same as it is every year – winning a Super Bowl. Last year the Steelers season ended with an overtime loss to the Denver Broncos in an AFC Wild Card game and for Woodley, the feeling would be the same no matter when it ended, unless the year ends with a Super Bowl win.
"Not going to the Super Bowl motivates me," said Woodley. "Every year we don't win the Super Bowl then that is my motivation. That is what I go into the offseason with. It wasn't how we ended last year. It wasn't just the end last year."
When he looks back at the 2011 season Woodley knows that despite the success the team had, there are things everyone on defense could have done better, including himself.
"We didn't play good all year long," said Woodley. "I go back and look at those games and say we could have done better in all of them. But that last game of the season was the game you win or go home.
"Team wise we gave up too many big plays. Big plays killed us. Even when you go back to the Texans game the big plays killed us. A lot of big plays killed us in the Baltimore game early. A lot of big plays killed us in the Denver game. We gave up too many big plays. When you give up the big plays, it's hard to come out on top."
OTAs are a perfect time for coaches to teach the basics, review things from the past, take a look at young players, and try players out at different positions.
"They want to evaluate us," said left tackle Marcus Gilbert, talking about working at both right and left tackle. "This is the time of year when they want to evaluate you on both sides. I am going to try to take advantage of it and learn both positions and just try to get better at it. I am doing more on the left side, but Coach put me in with the twos on the right side to get some work."
Gilbert said he has no preference which side he plays on. He just wants to do whatever is best for the team.
"I am in it for the team," said Gilbert. "Whatever will help our team win is where I am going to play. Wherever the coaches feel most comfortable with me playing and will help prepare the team, I will play."
Antonio Brown loves catching long passes, so it was no wonder he was smiling after the team's OTAs on Tuesday.
"I finally caught a pass down the field," said Brown. "I had been waiting to catch one. I finally connected today with Ben (Roethlisberger) and it was great."
Brown is hoping there are plenty more to come this season as he continues to get comfortable in Todd Haley's offense.
"I am looking forward to this year," said Brown. "I feel ahead of the curve. The offseason workouts prior to the OTA practices were really a key for me.
"Coach Haley does a great job of making it simple. Last year we had to worry about the route, coverage and blitz protection – that is three things even before the ball is snapped. He does a good job of making it simple so guys can play fast and be on the same page as Ben."