While there has been much concern over how new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's schemes would be handled by the Steelers and whether or not Haley and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would get along, wide receiver Antonio Brown is effusive in his praise for Haley's style.
"It's definitely a big difference," Brown said Wednesday.
"Todd's really a cool guy -- shaking guy's hands, communicating with guys, putting in that extra time for guys, visiting with guys. Bruce [Arians] wasn't really that type of guy -- he just went about his business.
"Todd is more team-oriented and more communicative with players and trying to work together with all the men, so he's getting to know everyone," Brown said
"That's something special to be a part of."
That flies in the face of the image of Haley's supposedly thorny personality and his clashes with star players and management while he was head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.
"Not at all," Brown said. "He's a great guy. Definitely not what people made him out to be."
"You can't go off of what you hear about a person until you really get to meet him, and, since I met this guy, he's been first class. ... [Haley] asks me what I'm seeing on the field and [makes suggestions] -- 'look at this route, you can do this better.' When you have men like that who are willing to ... be on the same page as players it makes it better for you, and you're more willing to want to play hard for them."
"That's what we're establishing in camp. Establish our identity, get on the same page, know the way he thinks, build that relationship."
Steelers offensive guard and No. 1 draft pick David DeCastro is developing a reputation as an intense man-of-few words.
"He looks like a military dude, man. He's too serious some of the time, but he's a great guy to have around the field," center Maurkice Pouncey said.
"Most of the time, he doesn't say anything at all. They call him Mr. Personality," Pouncey laughed.
So how to loosen him up?
"Just try to joke with him ... he went to that smart school [Stanford] -- it was probably school, school, school and football.
"He probably didn't learn how to have a good time in college -- he didn't take bowling."
Running back Rashard Mendenhall, on the physically-unable-to-perform list while recovering from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament in the final regular-season game Jan. 1 in Cleveland, said his rehabilitation is progressing.
"I've done some cutting. It's gone really well -- I feel right on schedule," Mendenhall said before adding he could not elaborate on a possible return date.
"No. Not at all. But everything is going well right now, so I feel good about that."
He also couldn't speculate exactly how far along he is, but is pleased with his progress.
"It's hard to say as far as a percentage ... but everything we've done has gone well and been successful, so we're just taking steps as we go along."
Running backs John Clay and Chris Rainey did not complete the afternoon practice due to groin injury for Clay and a heat-related illness for Rainey, coach Mike Tomlin said.
Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was given a day off as a precautionary measure because of his history of minor camp injuries, Tomlin said.
Safety Damon Cromartie-Smith was activated from the PUP list.
Outside linebacker James Harrison, offensive tackle Max Starks, nose tackle Casey Hampton, outside linebacker Jason Worilds and Mendenhall remain on the PUP list.
They have not practiced yet this preseason.
Dan Gigler can be reached at email@example.com, 412-263-1884 and Twitter @ gigs2312. First Published August 2, 2012 4:15 AM