All eyes were on Latrobe today to see if Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace would report by the 4:00 p.m. deadline to sign his one-year tender offer and continue negotiations on a long-term deal. Wallace, pretty much as expected, didn\’t show and the Steelers, also as expected, were not thrilled with his decision. It is being reported that contract negotiations have come to halt now until Wallace reports.
“Obviously Mike Wallace was not here today. I don’t know when he’s going to be here,” said head coach Mike Tomlin during his late afternoon press conference. “Obviously we have a desire for him to be here. We want him to be a part of this thing both short term and long term. We’ve been in negotiations with him. He’s not here today. It’s unfortunate for him. One thing that experience has taught me is that this is bigger than all of us. It’s bigger than Mike, it’s bigger than me, so I mean that when I say it’s unfortunate for him that he’s not here.”
Despite Wallace being a no-show, a few of his teammates believe that he will be arriving in a matter of days. “He’s a football player. “He just wants to be here. He’s anxious to get here,” said cornerback Keenan Lewis, who worked out with Wallace this offseason back home in New Orleans. “He loves playing the game. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to sit out. We worked all off-season. He’s in shape. He’s ready to go.”
Fellow wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders also had a positive outlook on Wallace as well. He told members of the media today that he is expecting Wallace to show in “3 or 4″ days. “I hear things…a couple of rumors, that things are starting to get closer.”
Sanders will get the reps at the X position in the offense until Wallace arrives.
Sanders was also asked about his health entering training camp this year. “This year I am finally feeling good,” said Sanders. “I feel like the old Emmanuel. I don’t have to worry about is the foot going to hold up when I cut on certain routes. I am feeling good, I feel healthy and I am looking forward to it.”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is also ready to get back to work as well. “It’s exciting to get back into it,” said Roethlisberger as he checked into camp. “OTAs are not really getting back into it. We need to put pads on, see how some people can perform in pads and get rolling. We will have pads on, tackling, and that is why I am excited.”
With Wallace not in camp today, life did go on. Defensive end Brett Keisel had the most noticeable arrival as he road up driving a Kubota front-loading tractor. Quite a few colorful hats and backpacks we\’re also spotted on a few players, but Keisel won the most unique arrival hands down. If there were a second place award, it would likely go to the aforementioned Lewis, who arrived driving a Smart Car.
Tackle Max Starks, who was signed back to the roster just over a week ago, told reporters that he and rookie Mike Adams are on an even playing field for the starting job at left tackle as camp begins. Starks will however start camp on the Active PUP list to finish up rehabbing his surgically repaired ACL that he tore in the AFC Wild Card game. Also joining Starks on the PUP list at the beginning of camp will be linebackers James Harrison (knee) and Jason Worilds (wrist). Harrison sat out all but the first OTA session with a knee problem, while Worilds missed all of the offseason practices after having surgery on his wrist. Nose tackle Casey Hampton (knee) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (knee) are continuing their ACL rehabs and will also start training camp on the Active PUP list as expected. Safety Damon Cromartie-Smith (shoulder) rounds out the players on the list after undergoing shoulder surgery this offseason. Tomlin noted during his press conference that he’s extremely close to being ready for action.
The late afternoon run test was conducted and Tomlin seemed pretty impressed with what he saw in regard to the overall conditioning of the team. He noted the young linemen, David DeCastro, Adams and Kelvin Beachum as impressing him and said that the test is usually hardest on rookie offensive linemen. It was reported on Twitter by Dale Lolley that second year tackle Marcus Gilbert did not finish the run due to what looked like a hamstring problem. Lolley however deleted his tweet so there might not be too much to the injury. We will know for sure when they take the field on Thursday for their first practice.
As far as who will line up at left tackle with the first team unit initially, Tomlin said, “I don’t know. We’ll see tomorrow.”
In the middle of the day, Art Rooney II held a short press conference to announce the signing of DeCastro. The Steelers first round selection was once again a man of few words and is just ready to play football. Rooney II was not asked questions about Wallace as the media was chided once for asking about anything other than DeCastro.