There are a lot of things that are going to be different. A different quarterback. A different look to the offense. Different defensive coordinator. Some different assistant coaches. A different general manager. Some other different people atop the Football Operations department. And the typical complement of different players.
But for Coach Mike Tomlin, there is a familiarity to it, a sameness that runs even deeper than a return to Saint Vincent College for the first time since the summer of 2019. And it was clear from the excitement in his voice as he participated Tuesday in his camp-opening news conference that it's genuine.
"I had that mindset in 1979, man, when I was putting my mouthpiece in the boiling water getting ready for youth football," said Tomlin following the team's conditioning test. "I just love it. I always have. Since I was 7 years old, I've been a part of a football team, and this time of year means something. Those of us who have been in this thing in any capacity, in any role, we like that feeling. We understand what that feeling is. When I lack that excitement, that's probably when it's time for me to move on to something else. I didn't boil a mouthpiece today, but I'm ready nonetheless."
Based on how Tomlin began the 30-minute session with the assembled media, he wasn't the only one who arrived ready.
"We're really excited to be here. It's awesome to get started," said Tomlin. "Let's talk about some observations. I just told the team I was really excited about a couple minor yet important things that I saw to this point: No. 1, everyone was on time; No. 2, everybody was appropriately conditioned."