The losses of Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell might temper outside expectations for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but not the expectations inside the team's locker room.
Asked about the Steelers' perceived underdog status, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stood on track record.
"I'm been here a long time. We're still the Pittsburgh Steelers," Roethlisberger said on the team's first day of minicamp Tuesday. "We're still going to go out and try to win every football game. It's been a long time since we've been to the big one. But, if everyone puts forth the effort we all think we can, with the talent we have in this room, we feel pretty confident we can be pretty good."
For years a trendy top-five preseason pick, the Steelers ranked No. 16 in ESPN's Football Power Index this offseason. The Cleveland Browns are the biggest story in the AFC North, at least for now, after the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr.
Despite falling short of the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record last year, the Steelers never have had a losing season in 15 years with Roethlisberger at quarterback, and they made the playoffs four straight years from 2014-17. Last year's team lost three December games by three points apiece, falling a half-game short of a division title.
After the franchise tag holdout by Bell, now a New York Jet, and Brown's late-season absence before he forced a trade to the Oakland Raiders, Steelers players are eager to keep the focus on football and off dramatic headlines.