PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers scattered on Saturday, with the final work completed after two months of offseason conditioning and training.
The team completed its three-day mandatory minicamp on Thursday, with the rookies and youngsters sticking around an extra day for an event at the Mel Blount Youth Home on Friday.
Saturday, the parking lot at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side was largely empty.
That doesn’t mean the work of preparing for the season will stop. But it does mean that the next six weeks will be solo work instead of team participation.
“Time to go run in cleats on grass. Keep it going. We’ve got to still ramp it up,” said tight end Zach Gentry, who is returning home to Albuquerque to continue his training. “Training in the high elevation is always nice for me. Get back with the family and working out and grinding.”
Others take an even more focused approach. Canadian wide receiver Chase Claypool will be headed to training facility in Los Angeles to continue his pre-season work, but not before checking in to get his homework assignments from offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
“I’ve got a list of things in my phone that I’m going to be working on,” Claypool said. “Different than what I was working on previous, just to kind of adjust to what they have me doing in the offense. I can’t say specifics. But we’ve got a list.”
The coaching staff will find some time to spend with their families after transitioning straight from the 2021 NFL season to preparing for the 2022 NFL Draft, free agency, and then right into offseason conditioning, rookie camp, OTAs and minicamp.
It’s also one of the few time periods of the year where what happens will be out of their control.
“Some of the messages we’ve left these guys with are physical conditioning precedes anything else, it kind of starts there,” head coach Mike Tomlin stressed. “That’s the one element they can control regardless of their level of experience, exposure to professional ball, or what we do here. They show up in great shape, they’ll position themselves to perform well.”
Otherwise, it’ll be six weeks of separation between leaders and team.
“[It’s] bittersweet for us because we’re just starting to find a rhythm, but such is life,” Tomlin said. “Now we’ll begin the independent portion of preparation as we get into our offseason. … It’s been a good spring for us with a lot of opportunities to teach and learn. Obviously, the next time we come together in an official capacity is going to be compete time and I’m sure we’re all excited about that.”
The next time the Black and Gold get together, it will be at training camp at St. Vincent College near Latrobe.