Today is a big day for many of the Steelers rookies because it is the first time the coaches and players will get a look at them in pads.
And it should be a big moment for Jarvis Jones, their No. 1 draft choice.
All the Steelers - coaches and players alike - are eager to see the outside linebacker from Georgia in pads, something they haven't been able to do since they made him the 17th overall pick in the NFL draft.
"It's like the first day of school," coach Mike Tomlin said. "Checking in here and getting on the grass is one thing, don't get me wrong. But football is a game played in pads and [today] is the first day of school."
And Jones is eager to show his teammates what he is capable of.
"Those are the guys I'm going to be on the field with," Jones said. "First and foremost, I got to build their trust and be with those guys through thick and thin. The coaches call the plays and put you in position to make plays, but your teammates are the ones going to go to war with you. I have to build trust in my teammates and have them know I got their back and they got my back."
Jones reported to camp weighing 248 pounds but said he expects to put on weight in training camp. Still, he might have to add a little bulk to handle left tackles in the NFL.
Jones has already impressed teammates with his speed and athleticism. Now they want to see that power and explosiveness he showed at Georgia when he puts on pads today in the afternoon practice at Saint Vincent College.
"I'm going to have a learning curve, I'm going to make some errors, I'm going to have to take those process steps," Jones said. "I'm doing a good job of taking the process slowly and learning. [Linebackers coach Keith Butler] is doing a good job of implementing the playbook and putting me in the playbook. And my teammates, all the guys help me when I'm on the field. It's been going well since I've been here."
With Jones and Jason Worilds slated to replace James Harrison at right outside linebacker, Chris Carter will move to left outside linebacker behind LaMarr Woodley. Carter, a fifth-round pick in 2011, started the first three games of the regular season in 2012 when Harrison and Worilds were injured.
Carter is eager to see Jones perform in pads.
"He has a lot of athletic ability, a great player," Carter said. "He's a real cool, humble guy. I'm excited to see what he does once we get these pads on."
A clean slate from 8-8
Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert spent a good portion of the offseason talking about how the Steelers went 8-8 and weren't going to hide from that.
On several occasions, Colbert even talked about the departure of several key veterans, dismissing them as players from an 8-8 team.
But, apparently, there will be no more references to the Steelers' record or discussion about the Steelers using last season's disappointment as motivation for 2013. At least from Tomlin.
"I'll talk about what we're doing here in camp and the development of the team, but I won't do it in reference to what occurred a year ago," Tomlin said. "It doesn't matter whether we were 8-8 or whether we won the Super Bowl. It's really irrelevant. This is not a continuation of what's gone on in the past. It's just us starting out and meeting the challenges of what this year holds for us."
Not your average interns
Three former Steelers are serving as interns at training camp, two with the coaching staff.
Former defensive end Aaron Smith is an intern with the scouting department and nose tackle Chris Hoke is an intern with the coaching staff, assisting defensive line coach John Mitchell.
Former running back Willie Parker, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, is a coaching intern helping with the running backs. Parker, who did an internship at Division II West Virginia Wesleyan last year, wants to get into coaching.
Cornerbacks Cortez Allen and DeMarcus Van Dyke were the only casualties of two days of practices in shorts. Allen was held out of practice Sunday because of what Tomlin called "discomfort" in his knee. Van Dyke injured his hamstring toward the end of practice. Tomlin said it was too early to determine the extent of the injury.Steelers - mobilehome - homepage
Gerry Dulac: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @gerrydulac. First Published July 29, 2013 4:00 AM