Steelers enter camp with high hopes of repeating as champions

 

By Mike Bires One by one, the Pittsburgh Steelers will pull into St. Vincent College today for what figures to be a most interesting training camp. This is the 43rd straight year they’ve settled into their summertime digs in the Laurel Highlands, but seldom, if ever, have they come to Latrobe with so many intriguing issues on the table.

Wide receiver position figures to be a period of transition in 09

 

For a team that lines up two past Super Bowl MVPs at wide receiver, this figures to be a period of transition for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pass receivers. Yes, change is in the air. Santonio Holmes may finally unseat Hines Ward as the No. 1 option in the passing game. With Nate Washington gone, there is a need for a new No. 3 wideout. With the addition of rookie Mike Wallace, the Steelers are a step faster at wide receiver than they were last year. And finally, if 6-foot-4 Limas Sweed progresses as expected in his second pro season, Ben Roethlisberger will have that tall target he’s coveted since Plaxico Burress left after the 2004 season. In time, this can be an outstanding group of wide receivers. “We can cast a big net in that regard because of the versatility of a Hines Ward and the growth and maturity ofRead More »

Q&A with Mike Tomlin

 

Q&A with Mike Tomlin Steelers coach Mike Tomlin met with the media Thursday after the last of the 14 scheduled voluntary organized team activity workouts. Mike Bires, who covers the Steelers for Inside Pittsburgh Sports, was among the reporters on hand. Here are portions of the interview: Q: How did you ward off complacency so what happened in 2006 to the Steelers doesn’t happen this year? A: “I am not concerned about what happened in ’05 or ’06, or in ’07 or ’08 for that matter. I am a singularly focused guy. My single focus is on developing a world championship-caliber team for 2009. 2008 was great – it was an awesome team. Where we are now is where we are. Where we are headed, more importantly than that, is our focus.” Q: Where do you from here in your third year as coach? A: “I better get better. ThatRead More »

Steelers notebook from Wednesday’s OTA

 

By Mike Bires Ben Roethlisberger’s health is always a big issue, even when he tweaks his knee at a voluntary off-season practice. Such was the case Wednesday when the star quarterback limped off the field at the Steelers’ indoor practice facility. After he was examined by a trainer, Roethlisberger watched the rest of practice. The injury wasn’t serious enough for trainers to wrap his knee. But “Big Ben” was limping as he left the field and headed into the locker room. Roethlisberger refused to speak to the media after practice. Likewise for coach Mike Tomlin, who has yet to meet with reporters after any of the organized team activities held so far. Although this injury isn’t believed to be serious, Roethlisberger will likely miss Thursday’s OTA. *** Speaking of Roethlisberger, he is scheduled to play June 12 in the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge at the Black Course at BethpageRead More »

NFL: Steelers, Ward agree to four year deal worth $22 million

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Hines Ward agreed to a 4 year extension worth $22 million, ESPN.com reported Saturday afternoon. Ward, 33, had 81 receptions for 1,043 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2008. It was Wards first 1,000 yard season since 2004. Ward approached the Steelers in mid March, expressing a strong desire to work out a long-term extension that would be fair for both sides. Ward’s extension will give the Steelers much needed salary relief.

Latest Rumblings from Monday’s OTA workouts

 

Mike Tomlin‚Äôs top project this off-season is wide receiver Limas Sweed. Tomlin is very high on Sweed and expects him to make a significant jump from year 1 to year 2. Project #2 is 2008 third round draft pick Bruce Davis. Davis has bulked up this off-season and the Steelers have hopes of him making strides in year 2. There continues to be some rumblings that Davis needs a stronger commitment to be a successful NFL player. Big off-season for him Hines Ward approached the Steelers in late March, expressing a strong interest in working out a two year extension before the season. The two sides will talk as training camp gets closer. No progress on the Max Starks front. Talks are on-going and the two sides are hopeful that progress will be made following the draft. Steelers want to get that cap hit in the $5.5 million range. WeRead More »

NFL: Steelers to turn attention to Starks, Miller

 

With James Harrison locked up, the Steelers focus has now turned to Left tackle Max Starks. The two sides have been in negotiations since March but talks have yet to reach the serious stages. Starks is due 8.451 million for the 2009 season, the average of the top five highest-paid tackles in the NFL. The Steelers want to get that cap hit in the $5.5 million range but the difficult task is giving Starks enough guaranteed money to satisfy him as he is due a guaranteed salary of $8.451 million this season. Talks will pick up later this week according to sources with the Steelers and the Steelers would love to get a deal done by the middle of May. Negotiations with tight end Heath Miller will begin

Afternoon Buzz

 

Malkin officially off the left point? I‚Äôve been told the Penguins will go into tomorrow‚Äôs game with a unit of Bill Guerin ‚Äì Sidney Crosby ‚Äì Evgnei Malkin down low on the power play. The same unit they worked on in Tuesday’s morning skate but didn’t use it until late in the third period. The Penguins did not work on their power play in today‚Äôs practice but will do so in tomorrows morning skate. The exact reason the team continues to play Malkin at the left point remains to be seen but Crosby likes to play the top of the right side and doesn‚Äôt want to play the left point. Look for Crosby to move down low tomorrow and Malkin to play the top on the right side for one-timer opportunities. Malkin is the Penguins top offensive player and they have to utilize his strength as a shooter on theRead More »

The Latest Steelers Buzz: Steelers to open up talks with Heath Miller in March

 

Free Agency begins on February 27th The Steelers have been involved in contract talks with James Harrison for about 7 days now. Reports indicate Harrison‚Äôs agent will meet with the Steelers at the combine. Talks with Heath Miller will begin in March once the Steelers priorities in free agency are taking care of. Miller is just as much of a priority for the Steelers as anyone. They have no intention of him entering 09 without a long-term extension. Jason Witten received a $6 year – $28 million contract a few seasons ago. Miller doesn‚Äôt put up the numbers Witten does but is regarded as the most complete tight end in the game. Here‚Äôs some new stuff on Nate Washington, Bryant McFadden and Penn State’s Derek Williams Steelers to meet with Drew Rosenhaus the agent for Bryant McFadden this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers Contracts

 

Quarterbacks 7 Ben Roethlisberger 3/3/2008: Signed an eight-year, $102 million contract. The deal contained $33.2 million guaranteed, including a $25.2 million signing bonus. Also included is a clause forbidding Roethlisberger from participating in hazardous activities. 2009: $4.75 million + $3 million roster bonus due in March | 2010: $8.05 million | 2011: $11.6 million| 2012: $11.6 million | 2013: $11.6 million |2014: $11.6 million | 2015: $12.1 million, 2016: Free Agent 2 Dennis Dixon 7/7/2008: Signed a three-year, $1.28 million contract. The deal included a $130,000 signing bonus. | 2009: $385,000 | 2010: $470,000 | 2011: Restricted Free Agent | Free Agents 4 Byron Leftwich 16 Charlie Batch