The Pittsburgh Steelers conducted a physical test to see who would be ready to start training camp fully healthy and who would need to start camp on the PUP list. Six players — Rashard Mendenhall, Casey Hampton, Max Starks, James Harrison, Jason Worilds and Damon Cromartie-Smith — learned they would be placed on the PUP list. However, the real issue in Pittsburgh is whether or not receiver Mike Wallace will get a new deal and whether he will show up for camp.
After the run test, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin took time to talk to reports and touched on the Wallace situation.
“Obviously Mike Wallace was not here today. I don’t know when he’s going to be here. 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.
“This group that is the Pittsburgh Steelers will continue to push on. We’ll focus our energies of readying the people who are here and when he shows up, he shows up.”
Recent reports indicate that the Steelers will cut off negotiations with Wallace if he fails to report to camp, but that doesn’t seem to concern Coach Tomlin.
“I’m less concerned about negotiations from a coach’s standpoint,’’ Tomlin said. “I want the player here. We’ve extended a tender to him, of course he hasn’t signed it. But I’m focused on the guys here working so I won’t focus on him until he gets here.”
If Wallace doesn’t show up for camp, receiver Emmanuel Sanders will get work as the starting X receiver in new offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s system. Sanders is ready to put in the necessary work and he has all of the support of Tomlin.
“I’m not going to get into the hypotheticals. What I’m going to do is work with Emmanuel Sanders because he’s here, and be excited about doing it.”
In the end, a deal with Wallace and the Steelers will get done. There is too much smoke regarding the contract talks between the two sides for there not to be fire. Many of Wallace’s teammates expect him to show up at some point during camp and with Tomlin’s words, it’s hard to believe Wallace won’t respect that and show up.
Once Wallace is in attendance, he will be able to iron out the final details of his long-term contract with the Steelers. It’s only a matter of time until a deal is done.