Limas Sweed switched uniform numbers and hopes for a new lease on his life and the sport he loves to play.
"I feel good, felt like I'm in college again," Sweed said between Steelers minicamp practices Friday. "I feel fresh, feel young, real confident. I'm ready to play some football."
It was the first time Sweed spoke publicly since the Steelers placed the young wide receiver on injured reserve for the final two games last season. The Steelers listed "non-football illness" for the move. Sources reveal Sweed dealt with emotional issues that required professional attention.
Sweed said Friday his leaving the team was a "mutual decision."
"I just had some personal things going on in my life," said Sweed, who shed his old No. 14 for No. 80. "My family and the Steelers helped me get through it, and it's water under the bridge. It was nothing. It's water under the bridge. I'm working my tail off to be out there with the Steelers and have fun."
The Steelers drafted the 6-foot-4 Sweed in the second round from Texas in 2008. He caught eight passes as a rookie, including two in the playoffs, but his drops became more infamous, including one that would have gone for a long touchdown against Baltimore in the AFC championship game.
Last season, rookie Mike Wallace quickly surpassed Sweed to establish himself as the No. 3 receiver. Sweed rarely played; he did not dress for four of the first seven games and caught one pass all season. Again, he dropped what would have been a 34-yard touchdown pass, standing alone in the end zone in a 23-20 loss at Cincinnati.
Sweed has been working out with his teammates much of this year and took the field with them April 19-20 when they had their first OTA practices.
"The guys were very supportive," Sweed said of the time he spent since going on injured reserve.
"My family was supportive. We worked through it."
His expectations for 2010 are "just to play football and have fun."
"Relax, play football and have fun. It feels good. I feel like a kid again, running around, playing a game that I've been playing for a long time.
"It's good to be back. It's good to be around the guys, good to be playing."