How was Day One with the new coach?
You know what? He just laid down the law. It was good to be here, for each and every one of the guys. I tell you what, it was a great atmosphere, just getting all the guys back. We got probably like 85 percent of the guys here and a lot more are coming. It's just good to be back.
When you say he laid down the law, what do you mean?
Just basically saying, 'Hey, you can go train in Orlando, and you can go train in Arizona, the nice climates or whatever, but you can't get out of those places what you can get here and that's football.' That's what he's preaching and that's what he's coaching. A guy like myself, I'm definitely taking heed of it.
So he wants the guys here?
Yes, he'd love to see them here.
What do you get by being here?
Like he said, football. You've got all the coaches here and they're ready and willing to get it started and teach us the new system. Our offensive system is going to change a little bit and B.A., our new offensive coordinator, I'm very excited to have him as our offensive coordinator. Just new things; there are new things that we have to learn and different terminologies and different route structures and things of that nature and I'm just happy to be here.
Was it all business or does this guy have a personality?
Oh, he definitely has a personality. He stepped in and kind of like laid down the law a little bit, like ‘hey guys, it's going to be a little bit uncomfortable, but as soon as we can get over that, it's going to benefit all of us.' The guys worked hard today on the field and also in the weight room. I look for the same thing tomorrow.
Pretty much everyone here?
Yeah, pretty much. We're only missing a few guys that's on their way.
Is Alan Faneca here?
No, Alan's not here.
Is Hines Ward here?
Oh yeah, Hines was here.
I think he's on his way.
Any talk around the locker room today about Joey Porter's incident in Vegas?
No, it wasn't much. I don't even know anything about it. I thought you were about to say something about his contract. I don't know anything about the incident.
Are you guys going to miss him?
You know what? Joey Porter's tough to replace – his enthusiasm, his leadership. He's been here a number of years, a great guy, a great player that you want on your football team. But change comes and you've got to make the best of it, give other guys an opportunity to step up.
Have you had a look at the new playbook yet?
Yeah. It's different, different terminology. And B.A., he's a passing-game type of guy, so as a receiver you've got to really learn a lot and that's why this time here is so important for us right now.
He said he was streamlining it, like pulling some old stuff that's been added down through the years. Is it a smaller playbook?
Yeah. Well, he's trying to simplify it as best he can, so definitely young guys can really catch it and grasp it and move forward. It's going to be something to be a part of come spring.
Is it just different or is it difficult to learn?
It's different terminology – totally different. You've got some of the same things that's all around the league, but the terminology and the way he calls plays is going to be different.
So it's not so much more complicated, it's that you guys have to learn a different language?
It's a different language, different terminology.
Will you have to work with Ben a lot more this spring? Will that begin any time soon?
I think the goal is for the receivers and the quarterback to work a ton. Our third-down efficiency was pretty good last year. It wasn't as good as it was the year we won the Super Bowl and that's where we're going to have to get it up, because if you're talking about winning a championship you've got to be darn good on third down. This time right now is to lay the platform for the upcoming season.
Did he do any throwing to you guys today?
No, not today.
When's that going to start?
I don't know. That's just voluntary, just trying to get guys back into the groove. We don't want to get anybody hurt. Probably like a week or two.
So Ben Roethlisberger was here?
Yes, Ben was here.
He said at the end of last season that he and the receivers have to do more work. Has he contacted you or made that clear that that has to happen?
He's definitely made it clear. He's here right now and that's a statement in itself. It's March 19th and we have five, six months before the season begins, and like I said he's here, we're here, and we will definitely get into the feel – throwing the ball and catching, things of that nature later on as guys gradually get used to the new strength coach and his way of doing things.
Do you like the idea that Bruce would like to go four wides on first downs?
Oh, I love it. It's going to be fun. I hope we can be very successful at it.
You said "we're here" like that was a point. Was it different last year? Were the components of the passing game not here this early?
Well, no, it wasn't different. You had two younger guys out there. He was used to throwing to Plaxico and Antwaan, so to have Nate and Santonio and Willie Reid – I mean new faces, like changes. The more we work together, the better we'll be.
Is Santonio Holmes here?
Yeah, he's here.
Where are you in the pecking order? I've seen anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4 receiver.
It's a new regime for everyone. Everybody's starting from scratch. I don't know if there's any guy on this team that's set in stone right now. You've got a new coach and everybody's out there working to get those spots, so that's what I'm going to do.
Do you feel you have to prove yourself to the new coach?
Oh, yeah. I definitely feel like I do. I think everybody does. I mean, he doesn't know anyone. He just came from Minnesota. He'd never been in the Steelers' building before he had his first interview, so I think everyone has to prove himself.
Does the fact that the turnout's so high, does that mean guys are going to buy into the changes that are going to take place?
I think. That's a great way of showing the coach respect and showing the organization respect, to show up and try to feed into this.