Emmanuel Sanders swears he does not think about his contract situation, does not wonder where he will be next season and will not hold back because of fear of injury.
"I'm excited about the new opportunity just to be a starting wide receiver in this league," the fourth-year pro said.
He will start in Hines Ward's former spot, the flanker position, opposite Antonio Brown, who plays in Mike Wallace's old spot, the split end. Like Wallace in 2012, this could be Sanders' final season with the Steelers, although he said he hopes it is not.
He's working on a one-year, $2.5 million contract thanks to the New England Patriots. They signed him to that deal as a restricted free agent, and the Steelers, passing up the chance to get a third-round draft pick instead, matched it. But there have been no negotiations to try to extend the deal.
If there is no extension, Sanders will become an unrestricted free agent next year and the Steelers will lose yet another of their Young Money receivers.
"I'm not really worried about the business side," Sanders said. "If I'm here next year, I'm here; if I'm not, I'm not. But this is the one year that I got as of right now, and I want to win the Super Bowl."
He thought he was headed to New England to pair with Tom Brady until, at nearly the last minute, the Steelers matched the offer and kept him.
His agent, Jordan Woy, said in April that other teams made him offers before they settled on New England, and as far as re-signing with the Steelers, "It would have to be a very good deal for us to sign a multiyear agreement."
Sanders said team officials made him no promises and never suggested that they would try to work out a long-term deal.
"Mike Tomlin pretty much sat me down and said 'We're going to match the tender, we want you here.'
"We have this one year to hopefully go to the Super Bowl and win it. As far as long term, there are no talks about long term or anything of that sort. But I'm not really worried about that, I'm not concerned about that, I'm just concerned about right now."
Other players in a similar position were suspected of not going all out in order to avoid injury and sign a big, new deal in free agency. Kendrell Bell was one a decade ago with the Steelers.
"I won't hold back because that's not who I am," Sanders said. "I'm not going to shy away from anything or try to cheat my teammates because of my selfishness. I'm not going to be that guy. I'm going to go out and I'm going to give it my all 100 percent, and, if it all works out, it's going to work itself out."
His position is different than that of Wallace's in his final season with the Steelers in 2012. Wallace already had proven himself as one of the game's most dangerous deep threats. This is Sanders' first season as the acknowledged starter, and two of his first three seasons were marred by knee and foot injuries. He needs a good year to get a good contract, and he has a quarterback who can only help that along in Ben Roethlisberger.
"Todd Haley and Ben are doing a good job of spreading the wealth," Sanders said. "We know that once the season starts, Antonio is going to get a lot of attention, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity of them putting a single corner on me. So it's going to be a good year."
Sanders played all 16 games last season. He caught 44 passes and averaged a team-high 14.2 yards per reception, although he scored just one touchdown. He also returned nine punts for a 10.3-yard average and has practiced doing that in this training camp.
"Last year, I was the third wideout, my job was to come in and catch third downs. I felt I was extremely productive as a third-down wide receiver, one of the best if not the best in the National Football League coming in and catching third downs. This year, they're loading up even more on me. Now I'm No. 2, I'm going to continue to do my job there."
Roethlisberger was among those who pushed the Steelers to match Sanders' contract with the Patriots.
"Ben's always had my back. It's good to know he still has my back. He didn't want me to leave here.
"The Steelers waited until the last moment so, at one point, I did think I would be a New England Patriot. But when Mike Tomlin called, I was ecstatic. Me and Antonio, ever since we got here we said we wanted to win a Super Bowl here.
"We came close in 2010, but it didn't happen, so I feel like I have something I have to accomplish here.
"The rest of it will work itself out."
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @EdBouchette. First Published August 3, 2013 4:00 AM