A year ago linebacker Bud Dupree was waiting to learn what his future would be as the NFL Draft approached. He had no idea what team he would be playing for, what city he would be living in, or where exactly his football life would take him.
Phase One of the Steelers off-season workout program is underway.
What a difference a year makes, though. Today Dupree is one of the many players working out at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex as the Steelers are in the second week of Phase One, the voluntary offseason program that is limited to strength and conditioning only.
"It's good to be here, and a great relief to know what is ahead of you, know what you are going to face," said Dupree. "It's great to have a year under my belt and be able to focus. Last offseason I was doing a lot of traveling, not having the time to focus on what I wanted to. I have more time to work out now. I am glad the rookie thing is over.
"I think this time is real important. You are meeting new people, getting to know new faces. You are with your teammates from last year too and picking up where you left off. It's about being with your brothers again and forming that team bond."
Forming that team bond is one of the biggest advantages to the offseason program. Sure, it's going to really be built during OTAs, minicamp and ultimately the rigors of training camp. But it starts now, especially for those new to the team like free agent signees Ladarius Green and Ryan Harris.
"For me it's extremely important," said Harris, the offensive tackle who joined the team from the Denver Broncos. "I want to get my bearings. Something as little as knowing where the cafeteria is, where my locker is, and getting to know the guys and the culture of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Right now it's good for guys like myself who are new to get familiar with the surroundings."
Green, the former San Diego Chargers tight end, has a newborn at home but understands the importance of being in Pittsburgh now.
"It's a real good thing," said Green. "It's good to be out here, get to know my teammates, know the city. You want to get used to your teammates and talk to them. It takes a while. It's about team bonding, getting in shape getting to know the guys."
One thing both Green and Harris have quickly picked up on since they signed with the Steelers last month is what the 'Steelers way' is all about.
"They work hard here, and are good about what they do," said Green.
"It's a great team. Great teams focus on all of the little details."
And as Harris has learned, great teams also have great fan base.
"Steelers Nation, what incredibility positive fans," said Harris. "It's a fun and up tempo, lively organization here. Every player who has been here, who is here, loves it here and you don't get that everywhere else."