For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was a step backward. A clear regression.

They plummeted to 8-8 last season, and team chemistry was probably a factor.

Have the Steelers regained their old hard-nosed ways heading into this season after such a disappointing campaign a year ago?

“I believe the strength of this organization is in its camaraderie and its family atmosphere. We didn't have those last year,” Polamalu told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “To me, that's kind of what separates us from most teams, that we've had that foundation here. When talent is pretty equal across the board — and it is in the NFL — you're looking in areas other than schematics to gain an edge. And that was an edge we didn't have.”

And fellow safety Ryan Clark agrees.

"This camp has been leaps and bounds better than last year as far as the chemistry," Clark said. "Guys aren't necessarily working harder. They're just working better together. There hasn't been that dissension ... even through the media, about this guy not getting along with that guy, different fights happening, you haven't seen that. I think that bodes well for us. That's the Steelers you're used to seeing. And I think it showed in our play and our execution.”

We'll soon learn if that change translates into success on the field.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.