The Steelers signed two rookie draft picks, from the fourth and fifth rounds, the team announced Sunday.
Nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu, their fourth-round pick, and halfback Chris Rainey, chosen in the fifth round, each signed four-year contracts. Ta'amu's deal is worth nearly $2.5 million.
They are the first two of nine 2012 draft choices to sign with the team.
Ta'amu (6 feet 2, 348 pounds) was the 109th overall pick in the draft. He played for the University of Washington, where he started 42 games.
Rainey (5-81/2, 180), the 159th overall pick, played at Florida.
All choices after the first round must sign four-year deals, according to the league's collective bargaining agreement.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger graduated from Miami University in southwest Ohio, about nine years after leaving for the NFL.
The university said Roethlisberger, 30, received his bachelor's degree in education and joined nearly 600 students at a commencement Sunday at the campus in Oxford. His wife, parents and grandmother attended.
Roethlisberger, who has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles, played football for Miami from 2001-03 and set several school passing records. An associate dean said Roethlisberger was four courses short of graduation when he jumped to the NFL. He completed those courses this spring.
Roethlisberger said he felt it was important to finish his classes to illustrate the value of getting an education.
No sense fooling around with a talent like Robert Griffin III. Barely a week after the draft, Washington is already proclaiming the Heisman Trophy winner their No. 1 quarterback. Saying that Griffin has the ability to do things no one else has done in the NFL, coach Mike Shanahan wrapped up a rookie minicamp by putting RGIII squarely atop the depth chart. "He's the starter. Period," Shanahan said.
First Published May 7, 2012 4:15 PM