Coach Bill Cowher spoke to his players about distractions, expectations and keeping their sights on their goals for 2006 as the Steelers closed the first phase of their spring workouts with the end of mandatory minicamp yesterday.
Winning a Super Bowl can often detract from successfully defending it.
"It is hectic, and I think it will continue to be," Cowher said. "There are a lot of things you have to be careful you don't get caught up in. I told the team this morning that there are fewer than 11 weeks until training camp, and you can't forget the foundation that was built a year ago.
"Part of that process is the commitment and dedication and sacrifice you have to make, particularly these next 11 weeks."
Still, Cowher said he's satisfied the team is on the right track.
"I like it. A lot is going to have to do with how we handle the challenges before us, and it's about recreating that chemistry because we have lost some key guys, not only on the field but in the locker room. That is a natural evolution.
"I do like where they are. As long as we stay grounded and not take ourselves too seriously, I think we'll be fine."
Rookie quarterback Omar Jacobs gave the Steelers an extended look at his funky throwing motion. He looks like a man throwing darts three-quarters with a punchy release that is quick, not drawing his arm way back.
The coaches won't tinker with it, at least not anytime soon.
"Right now, you just let him play," coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. "He has too many other things to worry about. He has a quick release. Right now, he's worried about calling the play, getting to the line of scrimmage, getting the snap. You start messing with other things you might give him overload."
Jacobs, a fifth-round draft choice from Bowling Green, took snaps mostly in the shotgun formation in college.
"That's probably the toughest position to come in here and learn, especially when you've been doing a lot of shotgun snaps," Whisenhunt said. "You have to call the play and get under center. That's why the next four weeks are real important to him.
"He's gotten a little more comfortable and that's what's positive, seeing how he's changed in the huddle as far as being more comfortable and that's a good sign. He did a good job in throwing the football and understanding the offense and the management of it and how he progressed in minicamp."
Cowher falls behind
Cowher jumped in to play a little linebacker and also ran sprints with the players at the end of practice.
How did he do?
"His best years are behind him," said Cowher, 49.
Cowher did not single out anyone, but not all of his players reported back in tip-top shape.
"No, there were some people that I discussed weight with. There are a few people that know where they need to be and aren't there yet."
Fulfilling a promise
Halfback Duce Staley, 31, returned this offseason to the University of South Carolina to take classes and fulfill a promise.
"I want to finish my degree," said Staley, who hopes to have enough credits to graduate with a degree in sports communication next spring. "I promised my mom that I would finish it before all is said and done."