Pretty physical early, isn't it?
Hey, we're trying to win, so we've got to do whatever it takes to win.
Could you contrast it with the last first day?
We've got our pads on and we're out here hitting. We've got to establish that foundation, which is Steeler football. We're physical, tough, run the ball, play defense and great special teams normally. This is what it takes to get back to that, so we're up here in Latrobe doing the journey.
Did you usually wear shells in the morning?
Yeah, we used to do shells in the morning and full in the afternoon. New coach, new regime. Everybody was out here with shoulder pads, helmets. We're hitting.
Were you surprised?
I'm fine with anything. Football comes in all shapes and sizes. Games happen in all shapes and sizes, as far as momentum, and you've got to be prepared for whatever happens.
What did you think of Woodley and Timmons?
They've been playing well and they'll continue to get better.
Was Woodley a surprise today?
He's anxious and he wants to play and he wants to show the coaches he wants to play.
How difficult is the transition for a D-end?
It's hard. He's doing well with it. When you play defensive end, you're used to always just getting off on the ball. You're not trying to really read formations and cover anything. I know that going from that position to linebacker, from college to pro, there's a whole lot you've got to soak up in the game, as far as reading and reacting as far as formation recognition and so on and so forth.
Is Woodley ahead of the normal curve at this point?
I don't even know what the curve is. I know he's doing well right now. But has he passed the coaches' expectations? I don't know. He's doing fine.
Troy got signed. Are you next?
I have no clue. I spoke with Mr. Rooney right before camp started. I just leave that all up to my agent. I want to be here. We'll see what happens.
Will the high draft picks at your position affect your status?
I have no idea. All I care about right now is trying to get better and winning some football games.
DAN KREIDER, fullback, Pittsburgh Steelers
Did offense or defense win?
We started out a little slow, even for myself. I missed on Farrior. I think in the past, when we do this drill with linebackers, we'd get a handful of times and then we'd call it and go to the next period. This time, each player got four or five reps up there. The disadvantage at that point's with the defense because how many tricks in the bag have you got? You see two or three moves from a guy and by the fourth time you know what you're going to get, either this move or that move. It goes from advantage defense in the beginning to advantage offense by the end. I'm claiming victory I think. We finished strong. Even though the last one Najeh got pummeled, but I think overall we won.
Woodley delivered some blows out there didn't he?
Yeah. He's a big guy. I mean, he's going to be a challenging individual. That first day, guys are just feeling each other out, and I'm sure he's going to get more comfortable as time goes. Hopefully we'll see some good things out of him.
Didn't he rock Najeh?
Yeah, Najeh just got a little high. He's a bigger back, so you're getting your hips high and anyone can get run through I guess. It's part of the game.
Was this practice a tone-setter?
I don't know if it's a tone-setter. It's a first step. We'll see how the end of this week finishes up. Sometimes you start strong the first day but by the end of the week everybody's kind of tired. It's a matter of whether we can keep this level of play up the whole preseason and keep climbing.
What's waiting at the end of the week: hamstring injuries or fights?
Probably both. I have confidence in this team, the guys we have here, as far as working hard and staying after it. But the fights, I think they'll come. It's only a matter of time. When you're banging twice a day on these two-a-days, you're going to get some heated things going.
When was the last time you hit twice a day?
When was the last time you hit in the morning?
This bucks the perception that Bill Cowher believed in physical camps, doesn't it?
Yeah, it's going to be a more physical camp this year.
Do you like that?
For me, my position's a physical position. Sometimes by the end of the year you feel a little wore down and beat up, but the one thing at this point in the year, you try to hone in your technique and you need this type of stuff. Now, whether or not we need this much, we'll find out. But it's all in how you embrace it. I take it a practice at a time and try to get better every practice and hopefully it'll pay off in the end.
Did you hear grumbling when the 15 two-a-days were scheduled?
Not too much. Guys are talking about it because it's something different, but guys have a good mentality about it. Training camps are hard regardless. It's more the grind, more mental, because you're here for such a long time. Every camp you're going to work hard. Guys prepare for that.
Have you had any contract talk with the front office?
No. I've always taken it a year at a time, so we'll play out this year. You know, they make a lot of references that I'm getting older, so I don't know what that means.
Coaches and whatever. And I understand I'm 30 this year. I like to think I'm playing at a high enough level to be a starter in this league and play well, but maybe it's not my decision though.
Are you worried they're phasing your position out?
No. In the springtime you just don't know, but I got a chance to talk to Tomlin and we had a good talk about things and he has a desire to have a fullback here. Whether it's me or someone else, who knows? One thing I can say about B.A., he believes in the run game. I wasn't so sure at first because he was a receivers coach and stuff, but he's like, ‘We've got to be physical. We've got to run the ball.'
So you're not worried about the tight end/fullback hybrids?
That's their decision. I can only take care of what I can do out here. Every opportunity I get I'm going to try and excel at it and do whatever they ask of me and let the chips fall where they may.
Are you still a devastating secret receiving weapon in the flat?
I'm always open. Always. No, but, hey, if they want to toss it out to me, I'll be willing to catch a couple, but I still know what my role is.
HINES WARD, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
Will there be comparisons all year between the coaches' ways of doing things?
Yeah, because you had one guy here for so many years. You guys are even accustomed to a certain way. It's different. Coach Tomlin is Coach Tomlin. It's not his job to come in here and do the same things Coach Cowher did. He wouldn't be Coach Tomlin if he did that. He'll do things his own way. We as players got over how we used to do things. During OTAs, it was kind of weird, uncertain. You really didn't know what to expect because it was different. Any time you add something different, you're going to have a little bit of uncertainty. Now, it's training camp. We had our camp book before we even knew. We knew we were going to have two weeks of two-a-days before we even got here. He said, ‘Go home and prepare yourself because the first two weeks you've got two-a-days every day with shoulder pads. Is it different than Coach Cowher? Yeah. But he's our coach now. It is what it is.
For guys who've done things one way for so many years, is this harder or more exciting?
A little bit of both. You're so used to and accustomed to doing it one way, and it's kind of like somebody coming in and changing the whole thing. There's a fear of letting go of your old ways because it's worked for so many years and trying a new way, you don't know where it's going to lead you. That's where the veteran guys come in. It's our job as veteran guys to believe in Coach Tomlin and his ways so the younger guys can buy into it too.
Have you sensed a bit of an edge in your coach?
There is. He's got something to prove. He's out here for a purpose. There has only been two coaches here the last some-odd years, so there's going to be a lot of pressure on any coach who comes in. He wants to get out of that mold, that ‘Coach Cowher didn't do it.' Well, Coach Cowher's not here. He's not here anymore. We're doing it the way Coach Tomlin's doing it. He wants to go out and prove to everybody he can be a great coach and he has to set his ways with the team. It is what it is. If you don't like it then get off the ship. He's a straight-shooter. He's going to call you out when you have a bad practice, but at the same time he's going to praise you when you have a good one.
How does Ben look this year?
He looks good. As a group overall, we all have to get better. It's not all on Ben. I mean, he's our quarterback and he gets a lot of blame when things are going bad but he gets a lot of praise when things are going good. We're all in it together. We all have to come out and help make his job a little easier, and Ben has to put more trust in his players, his role players, to go out there and make plays. We're starting to do that this camp. We looked good today. We didn't have any picks or nothing.
Can you keep up the physical pace you set this morning?
I don't know. We'll see. He just wanted to see where his players are at physically. OTAs? You don't know what Timmons is going to do. You don't have a feel. Now you put on pads and it's a lot different. Add pads and a little hitting and you can tell a lot about players. And he wants to know what type of players, what type of team. He wants to know who's going to grind it out, who's going to tough it out through this whole training camp. I think it's a test to see what type of players he has on his team, because he don't know us. He only knows us from watching us on film, but he don't know us personally and what it takes to be the type of team we need to be. I think these first two weeks are a feeling-out process. He wants to know what real ballplayers he has out here. To me, that's what I think this whole two weeks of two-a-days is all about. It's him evaluating his players and seeing what he's got and seeing what we've got with pads on.
I've never been to training camp and said training camp's going to be easy. One may be harder than the next. Is this different? Of course it's different. Nobody's been two straight weeks of two-a-days. But in high school I had two straight (weeks) of three-a-days, so I've been through worse.