LATROBE, PA – Today is the day. The Steelers hit the fields for the first time in pads.
But yesterday, it was a case of should he stay or should he go? That was the question surrounding Plaxico Burress as he made his way to Steeler camp for talks with Steeler Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert, Omar Khan and Steeler coach Mike Tomlin.
Burress, was the Steelers’ No. 1 draft pick in 2000, played for them through 2004 and had some of his finest years in Pittsburgh. He never turned over a stone while here, and players, coaches and management all think highly of him.
Last year the Steelers did the same thing, bringing back veterans such as Larry Foote, who not only knew the system but also were leaders and got the Super Bowl XLV.
“There’s always a comfort zone when you know the player you might bring back, just like last year with Byron Leftwich and Larry Foote and Antwaan Randle El,” said Colbert. “If you’ve had a guy previously, we know what to expect from him and he knows what to expect from the organization. Coach Tomlin wasn’t here when Plax was, so it’s more of a getting-to-know each other for those two.”
Burress spent most of Saturday in camp, and reported was upstairs talking numbers. He left without a deal being struck. He is schedule to meet with the 49ers, and also the Jets. who are very interested in his services. His agent is Drew Rosenhaus and he usually gets his clients good money.
Whether the Steelers can match those offers or are in the ballpark is yet to be determined. Burress has been in contact with Ben Roethlisberger, and met with his former teammates for most of the day, 11 of whom are still on the team, and according to all, seemed content. His wife is from the Pittsburgh area.
“I’ve known him a long time,” Steeler quarterback Byron Leftwich said. “I’ll let that play out. It is a situation where he will do the right thing for himself.”
Again, it comes down to whether him feeling at home is more important than the cash and if the Steelers can clear more cap space.
“With any player, you have to look at if you do this then it is going to cost us this and is it worth doing?” Colbert said. “He is interested, (agent Drew Rosenhaus) is interested and we are certainly interested so where it goes we will certainly find out.”
SEPULVEDA BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN
There are also reports that the Steelers have struck a deal with punter Daniel Sepulveda later Saturday, which is somewhat surprising considering the team signed Jeremy Karpinos and also brought in free agent Aaron Bates as an extra leg in camp, a player who was successful at Michigan State. Sepulveda was to have talks with Texas on Saturday, but instead choose the Steelers offer.
The Steelers also had another player visit camp on Satruday, Denver Broncos unrestricted free agent Daniel Graham. He is a good receiver and also blocker, but no deal was struck as the Steelers still must sit and wait the Burress saga. Last year he had 18 receptions for 148 yards, or 8.2 yards per catch.
If the names of the field sound confusing, there is a reason. Due to the new CBA, free-agents signed by the team cannot practice until August 4 and alot of veterans are resting injuries. So until then, its a chance for undrafted guys and guys who see little playing time to prove themselves.
Kyle Jolly ( you have to love the name) lined up at tackle again. D’Mon Cromartie Smith played safety while Chris Scott, who spent most of last year injured was lined up at right tackle again, and thus far show good promise.
*With Mewelde Moore still AWOL and not signed by the team, third round pick Baron Batch has been getting a number of looks in camp. Thus far he has not disappointed. Who has, is Jonathan Dwyer, who looks unmotivated.
*The Steelers will finally hit the field in pads Sunday. Again, due to the CBA, they are not allowed to do so until today.
It’s football,” Tomlin said in a brief presser. “We’re going to come out with the pads on, and we’re going to play football.”
*The Limas Sweed watch continues, and once again was hurting, this time having ice on his hamstring. Hello Wes Lyons? Probably not, but Lyons is big at 6-foot-8, and if Burress does not sign gives Roethlisberger the target he is looking for.