We’re finally approaching the end of July, and that means at long last that the Pittsburgh Steelers will soon be heading to Latrobe to begin the 2014 edition of training camp, where many of this offseason’s maneuvers will finally begin to take shape.
Steelers guard Ramon Foster spoke to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Mark Kaboly yesterday on his radio show about some of the changes that have taken place in the past year, including the formation of a new mentality in the younger players:
I think the guys’ maturity [is different this year]. What people don’t realize is that we were pretty young last year. I think one of the biggest things that we took from last year is the fact that guys understand that just because we have on the Steelers emblem and we put on that black and gold, it doesn’t mean that teams are going to lay down for us.
We had a lot of guys playing last year, and the year before also, that fell into positions, as far as older guys may not have been there, and those older guys understood what it took to win. And now you have the young guys like Kelvin, who’s playing, and David, who’s played, now they understand what it takes to win.
Indeed, last year was the first real extensive playing time for many young players, including the aforementioned Kelvin Beachum and David DeCastro, who each started at least 11 games for the Steelers during the 2013 season.
The team has lost a lot of veteran experience on the line the past few years, including Max Starks and Willie Colon, both of whom started the last time the Steelers won a Super Bowl. The young guys are trying to fill the shoes of players who contributed to championship teams without the benefit of their experience. Not that it’s impossible to win without that guidance, but sometimes the adversity of a difficult season is a good teacher:
I’m not saying they didn’t [know how to win], but now there’s a mentality about us that has to be taken on very seriously, whether it’s from a practice field and then leading up to game day. I think it was a good learning experience for everybody, and hopefully we bounce back from that. And no excuses on the back end of this year.
Being one of the veteran presences in that locker room now, and the longest tenured lineman on the team, as well as one of the voices of the offense and the team as a whole, Foster understands the role that he has to play in helping to facilitate that appropriate mentality in the young and upcoming generation of Steelers:
That’s the most important thing, is to lead by example. There’s only so much you can tell a person, or just try to give him insight. I think sometimes you have to live through that, and with that you become stronger and you become hardened from it.
And that’s what I’m hoping, that everyone is coming to camp with that mentality, that nothing’s going to be given to us. 8-8 is very unacceptable. You hear it from the fans, you hear it from the media. It’s something that we’re not proud of, that we definitely don’t settle on. A lot of teams are happy to go even. We’re not.