PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will get nose tackle Tyson Alualu back after missing most of last season with an ankle fracture. At 35-years-old, there's questions about returning from surgery and a year off the field, but Alualu believes he's back to normal.
The Steelers veteran spoke with All Steelers about his return to the game, saying the biggest challenge at OTAs is getting over the mental hurdles.
"Feeling a lot better," Alualu said. "When you're away from football, there's a lot of things you miss about ball. But it's kind of getting back into football shape. Doing all the things without thinking about injury. A lot of mental things you have to get through, but this is the perfect time to work out those little kinks and get back to playing football."
This offseason is different. The Steelers are working with a younger team, and developing guys early. Which, for returning vets like Alualu, means they get to go a little bit more full-speed during OTAs.
"This is a different OTAs than that of the past," Alaualu said. "We get to go full on in team mode and go against each other. This is a good way to introduce, especially with me coming off an injury, to getting back to playing ball."
Alualu didn't miss much time in Pittsburgh last season. Despite being on Injured Reserve, the nose tackle was present at almost every practice - working with younger guys like Isaiahh Loudermilk and Henry Mondeaux. Making his return to playing more comfortable this summer.
"Both physically and mentally that was good for me," Alualu said. "Just being involved with the game, and at the same time - during rehab - help out the younger guys and the guys in the room."
And as he works his way back into the defensive line, the group around him is a year stronger and more developed. Pittsburgh will look for Loudermilk to make the second-year jump, Chris Wormley returns as a growing starter, and rookie DeMarvin Leal has plenty of attention around him.
To Alualu, there sky is the limit for this group.
"Just having a good core guys that compliment each other. There's no ego involved where you're trying to look out for yourself," Alualu said. "Everyone's trying to get each other better, where we can sharpen our swords, and help this team win games. When that's the focus, we become a dangerous group."
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