NFL Team Report - Pittsburgh Steelers - INSIDE SLANT
PITTSBURGH -- One veteran showed up on Tuesday, one remained away and one continued to play a cat-and-mouse game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cornerback Ike Taylor, 34, missed the first week of OTAs, but that is no big deal because he always keeps himself in shape and entering his 12th season, pretty much knows what he is supposed to do.
Same with Troy Polamalu, also entering his 12th season. He decided not to attend these things presumably until the required minicamp in two weeks. The Steelers would have liked their strong safety to work with his new partner at free safety, Mike Mitchell, but they're not raising a stink about it.
As Taylor said on Tuesday, "Troy around this time is probably somewhere up in the mountains with the monks praying. So you have to let Troy be Troy. When he comes back, he's going to be Jesus on the field."
Then there is defensive end Brett Keisel. He remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent at age 36. The Steelers would like him back, but so far Keisel and his agent have said they will not play for the minimum, which in his case would be around $1 million.
Pittsburgh was hoping to bring him back at the minimum veteran benefit, which would pay him $955,000 in salary, plus a $65,000 signing bonus and he would count just $635,000 against their salary cap.
The Steelers lost starting defensive end Ziggy Hood and backup Al Woods in free agency. They signed Cam Thomas as a free-agent end/nose tackle and drafted end Stephon Tuitt in the second round. Cam Heyward has one end locked down and they would love to have Keisel split time with the others and tutor Tuitt.
Keisel and his family have long made their home in Pittsburgh. It could still happen.
NFL Team Report - Pittsburgh Steelers - NOTES, QUOTES
--Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned to practice Wednesday and Thursday after missing Tuesday to attend family matters. Roethlisberger congratulated Colin Kaepernick on his six-year, $126 million contract.
--The Steelers stepped up work on their no-huddle offense this week. Having lost two veteran receivers in free agency, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, Roethlisberger wants to get up to speed with his new ones, veteran Lance Moore and second-year man Markus Wheaton especially. They also drafted Martavis Bryant and signed Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Might they use it more often in 2014?
"I think it depends on how we pick it up as an offense," tight end Heath Miller said. "I think if we can, then it can be a good weapon for us."
--Cornerback Ike Taylor took a steep pay cut to return for his final season under contract and, at age 34, perhaps his final season. He agreed to drop from $7 million to $2.75 million in salary and had no qualms doing so.
"My salary is a lot of money. With anybody, it's a lot of money. I've been fortunate enough to be making a lot of money since 2005. As a player, either you are going to put your pride aside or you know that your time is coming. And that time came."
--Rookie running back/wide receiver Dri Archer, their third-round pick from Kent State, went through his first OTA practice with the veterans after missing the first week because he was required to attend the NFL Players Association Rookie Premier.
--LB Jason Worilds has missed five of the first six OTA practices because of a calf injury. He has been running and riding the stationary bike.
NFL Team Report - Pittsburgh Steelers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A closer look at the Steelers' picks:
Round 1/15 -- Ryan Shazier, ILB, 6-1, 237, Ohio State
--Steelers bypassed more obvious needs at CB, WR to take what they believe to be a dominant playmaker with lightning quickness and 4.36 speed. He eventually will be a three-down linebacker, playing in all of their sub packages.
Round 2/46 -- Stephon Tuitt, DE, 6-5 1/2, 312, Notre Dame
--He fills a major hole at end after the departures of Ziggy Hood, Al Woods and the loss of Brett Keisel. He should become the rare exception as a regular starter as a rookie in Dick LeBeau's defensive line, the first since Casey Hampton in 2001.
Round 3/97 -- Dri Archer, RB/WR, 5-8, 173, Kent State
Todd Haley always has had a small, quick, fast do-it-all back for a change of pace and to add some intrigue to his offense. Archer ran a 4.26 40. They plan to use him all over the place, plus on kick returns.
Round 4/118 -- Martavis Bryant, WR, 6-4, 211, Clemson
--Ben Roethlisberger finally gets his tall receiver, provided he can overcome a bad rep for work ethic and hands. Steelers say he has a chance to start. Good speed at 4.46 for a big man.
Round 5/157 -- Shaquille Richardson, CB, 6-0, 194, Arizona
--Many predicted they would draft a corner in first round. It's a big need for them and he will have a chance if he shows anything. Not very fast at 4.5, but good tackler and Ike Taylor is 34.
Round 5/173 -- Wesley Johnson, OL, 6-5, 297, Vanderbilt
--Versatile player who started 51 games, mostly at tackle but some at center and guard and that attracted him to the Steelers. Durability also an asset for a team that has had many injured linemen the past few years.
Round 6/192 -- Jordan Zumwalt, ILB, 6-4, 235, UCLA
--Played inside and out in college; Steelers will put him inside, where it is suddenly crowded after him and first-round pick, Shazier. Vince Williams, sixth-rounder last year, started as a rookie inside.
Round 6/215 -- Daniel McCullers, NT, 6-7, 352, Tennessee
--Steelers want their nose tackles to eat up blocks and McCullers is big enough to eat up several. He is the biggest man on their roster right now. A little tall for nose tackle, so playing low will be a test for him.
Round 7/230 -- Rob Blanchflower, TE, 6-4, 256, Massachusetts
--Blanchflower joins a crowded field of five tight ends, but the Steelers kept four on the roster last season so there is room for him to make the team. In Pittsburgh, tight ends must block first.
TRANSITION PLAYER: LB Jason Worilds (tendered at $9.754M; signed tender March 4).
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--WR Plaxico Burress (not tendered as UFA).
--RB Felix Jones (not tendered as UFA).
--DE Brett Keisel (not tendered as UFA).
--P Mat McBriar (not tendered as UFA).
--RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Stevenson Sylvester (not tendered as UFA).
--C/G Fernando Velasco (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Jamaal Westerman (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--LB Ryan Shazier (1/15): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Martavis Bryant (4/118): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Shaquille Richardson (5/157): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--T/G Wesley Johnson (5/173): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Jordan Zumwalt (6/192): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--NT Daniel McCullers (6/215): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Rob Blanchflower (7/230): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Will Allen: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
--TE Michael Palmer: UFA; terms unknown.
--C/G Cody Wallace: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--LS Greg Warren: UFA; terms unknown.
--OL Guy Whimper: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Jason Worilds: Transition FA; $9.754M/1 yr.
--RB LeGarrette Blount: UFA Patriots; $3.85M/2 yrs, $950,000 SB.
--WR Darrius Heyward-Bey: UFA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Brice McCain: FA Texans; terms unknown.
--S Mike Mitchell: UFA Panthers; terms unknown.
--LB Arthur Moats: UFA Bills; $795,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--WR Lance Moore: FA Saints; $3M/2 yrs.
--P Adam Podlesh: FA Bears; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Cam Thomas: UFA Chargers; $4M/2 yrs, $1M SB.
--CB Curtis Brown (released).
--T Levi Brown (released).
--S Ryan Clark: UFA Redskins; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Jerricho Cotchery: UFA Panthers; 2 yrs, $2.25M SB.
--RB Jonathan Dwyer: UFA Cardinals; $795,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--LB Larry Foote (released).
--DE Ziggy Hood: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--TE David Johnson: UFA Chargers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--C/G Eric Olsen: Not tendered as ERFA/Titans; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Emmanuel Sanders: UFA Broncos; $15M/3 yrs, $6M guaranteed.
--LB LaMarr Woodley (released/post-June 1 designation)
--DE Al Woods: UFA Titans; terms unknown.