THE LATEST STEELERS CAMP RUMBLINGS
— One reason the Steelers have no clue for when Mike Wallace is going to show up is because his agent Bus Cook had been advocating for Wallace to report to camp last Wednesday and still is, but Wallace has gone against Cook’s advice to report, individuals close to Cook are saying. Maybe Wallace will come to his senses and report this week or maybe it will be at least a few weeks down the road. The Steelers just don’t know at this point.
— The Steelers final offer to Wallace before they took it off the table was more but similar to Antonio Brown’s 5 year – $42.5 million deal. The final offer to Wallace, according to sources, was somewhat of a backloaded deal with the overall value of the deal closer to $45 million over 5 years, than the rumored $50 million over 5 years some have speculated. Guaranteed money remains a big issue as Wallace is seeking at least $23 to $25 million in the first two years of the deal. He’s never going to see that type of deal from the Steelers.
— Unless a team were to approach the Steelers about trading for Wallace and willing to offer a first or second round pick, the Steelers envision Wallace playing out the 2012 season on his $2.72 million tender, unless his demands come down into DeSean Jackson territory (5 yrs – $45 million, $15 million guaranteed). The Steelers number they have in place for Wallace is just North of the Jackson contract and they won’t be going off their number.
— One view around the league is that the Steelers might see the Wallace situation as the best case scenario being the process of getting the most out of him for one more season than letting him walk next off-season via free agency, assuming his demands don’t come down. Wallace turns 26 on Wednesday and some feel it’s only a matter of time before that 4.2, 4.3 speed becomes 4.4, 4.5 speed and when it does, Wallace is no longer such a dynamic receiver because he isn’t a good enough all around receiver nor has great size at 6-foot-0 for when that blazing speed goes. The Steelers are an organization that feels receivers are the easiest position to replace.
— The Steelers are very high on Cortez Allen’s ability inside in the nickel, so expect him to have a lockdown on that spot even if he were to leap Keenan Lewis as the No. 2 starting cornerback. Lewis doesn’t play the slot well, so one scenario to watch if Allen were to win the starting cornerback job opposite Ike Taylor, is him going inside when the team uses 5 or more defensive backs, similar to how they used William Gay last season. The coaching staff loves Allen’s abilities to match up against big pass catching tight ends.
— Jonathan Dwyer is currently the No. 2 running back on the depth chart behind Isaac Redman in practices and he’s the guy the Steelers coaching staff hopes to emerge as a legitimate No. 2 option behind Redman, giving the team 8 to 10 tough carries a game. Look for the Steelers top-4 backs to open the season being Redman, Dwyer, Batch & Rainey with Mendenhall starting season on Pup list. As good as Mendenhall is running in individual workouts, the Steelers believe they won’t see him on the field for game action until at least somepoint in October at the earliest.
— Todd Haley has big plans for his tight ends in the passing game, running two tight end sets, and he is said to love Weslye Saunders potential as a pass catcher. It’s a shame he will be suspended for the first four games of the season.
— Troy Polamalu is coming off a healthy season but the big play ability wasn’t there in 2011. Polamalu, 31, had just 2 interceptions in 2011, and despite being the heaviest he’s ever been in camp, which has some observers feeling he’s lost some explosiveness, the Steelers are not concerned about a drop off in play in defending the pass.
— Since mini camp, it’s been clear that Todd Haley will be putting a lot of focus towards establishing the run. 11 on 11 drills are prominently running plays so far with little attack through the air for big passing plays, but it’s still hard to envision Tomlin and even Haley going to the extreme of becoming a run first team when the regular season comes along with one of the best quarterbacks in the game under center and no Arian Foster in the backfield. What I continue to hear from those in the organization is that Tomlin and Haley are looking for this offense to become much more unpredictable, compared to how the offense was under Bruce Arians.
— Former Penn State receiver Derrick Williams, the Detroit Lions 3rd round pick in 2009, has at least caught the coaching staff’s eye where he’s running No. 4 on the depth chart at wide receiver behind Brown, Sanders, and Cotchery. He’s one of those bubble players who will need to consistently make things happen in practices and in the preseason and show some of that playmaking ability out of college that made him a third round pick. When drafted he was also viewed as a returner and could get a look there.