LATROBE – Already, Mike Tomlin is an unhappy camper.
To be sure, the Steelers’ head coach is delighted to be back at training camp trying to build another championship contender. On a personal level, he’s delighted that he has a new contract extension that will keep him in the fold through the 2016 season. But he seemed upset that wide receiver Mike Wallace has decided to hold out over contractual issues.
“On a not-so positive note, Mike Wallace was not here today,” Tomlin said Wednesday after 89 other players on the Steelers’ roster reported to camp. “I don’t know when he’ll be here. Obviously, we have a desire for him to be here. We want him to be part of this thing, short term and long term.
“But he’s not here today, and that’s unfortunate for him. One thing that experience has taught me: this is bigger than all of us. It’s bigger than Mike. It’s bigger than me. So I mean it when I say it’s unfortunate for him that he’s not here.”
Wallace, who led the team in catches, TD receptions and receiving yards last year, is not permitted to practice until he signs a contract. The Steelers want him to sign the $2.7 million tender he got months ago as a restricted free agent. However, Wallace is holding out because he’s demanding a multi-year contract that would make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid receivers.
“This group that is the Pittsburgh Steelers will continue to push on,” Tomlin said. “We will focus our energies on the people who are here. When Mike Wallace shows up, he’ll show up.”
The Steelers have made it known to Wallace’s camp that the team is breaking off talks and won’t resume talks until Wallace signs his tender and reports for camp. Wallace is now in a no win situation.
DeCastro introduced, six players begin camp on pup list
— After the Steelers reported to camp by a 3 p.m. deadline Wednesday, the first order of business was holding a press conference to officially announce the signing of first-round draft pick David DeCastro. An All-American guard out of Stanford, DeCastro signed a four-year $7.8 million deal (with an option year) on Monday.
“We’re looking forward to David being an anchor on our offensive line for years to come, and so David, welcome to St. Vincent,” said team president Art Rooney II.
“I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to start playing football,” said DeCastro, who’s expected to start immediately at right guard.
DeCastro then joined the rest of his teammates for the annual conditioning test in which most players on the roster ran a series of wind sprints. Among those who didn’t run were six players placed on the physically unable to perform list: nose tackle Casey Hampton, linebacker James Harrison, running back Rashard Mendenhall, offensive tackle Max Starks, linebacker Jason Worilds and safety Damon Cromartie Smith. Those players will be monitored during the early part of camp.
Mendenhall, Hampton and Starks are dealing with torn knee ligaments. Starks is the closest to being a full participant at somepoint in camp.
Meanwhile, James Harrison is still dealing with a knee injury that limited him in OTA’s earlier this off-season. He will start on the pup list as a pre-caution. “We don’t want to take any steps backwards, ” Tomlin said.
Harrison and Worilds being limited will lead to more reps for second year linebacker Chris Carter, Tomlin indicated.
Brown, Keisel ready to chase Lombardi
“I’m excited to be back,” said wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Steelers’ Most Valuable Player last year. “You know, we didn’t finish last year the way we were supposed to. So we’re anxious to get back to work so we can put together a team that can us get back to the Super Bowl.”
Last year, the Steelers went 12-4 during the regular season but were upset in the wild-card round of the playoffs by the Denver Broncos.
“We’re here to start the process of chasing down another Lombardi Trophy,” said defensive end Brett Keisel. “I can’t wait to get started.”