Todd Haley will showcase his new offense on the field for the first time Tuesday, and he'll do so without one of the Pro Bowl players expected to make it go, and two possible new starters on the line.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace has not signed the one-year, $2,742,000 tender offered him as a restricted free agent, and various reports say he will not do so before the Steelers open their organized team activities, commonly called OTAs.
Wallace is not required to sign the tender and the only thing required of any of their players -- provided they are under contract -- is to attend minicamp June 12-14, which will end these spring sessions.
Come June 15, however, the Steelers are permitted to change the amount of that tender to 110 percent of Wallace's 2011 salary. That would reduce his '12 salary to $577,000. Sources say they will not do that, at least not before training camp opens.
General manager Kevin Colbert has stated consistently that the Steelers prefer to sign Wallace to a long-term contract. However, those negotiations have gone nowhere.
Two rookies possibly being counted on to start on the line cannot report for OTAs either. The top two draft picks, guard David DeCastro and tackle Mike Adams, cannot attend until the semesters end at their schools. That means Adams, of Ohio State, will miss through the first week of June. DeCastro will miss all of OTAs and minicamp because Stanford's spring quarter goes through mid-June.
Missing OTAs can be a negative for rookies, especially those expected to play quickly. However, there were no spring workouts/practices for NFL teams last year because of the lockout and that did not stop rookie tackle Marcus Gilbert from starting 14 games, beginning with the second game of the 2011 season.
These practices for the Steelers take on more importance because, for the first time since 1999, when Bill Cowher hired Kevin Gilbride, the Steelers will have an offensive coordinator from outside the staff.
Haley, the first coordinator change under coach Mike Tomlin, tossed out the playbook the offense had followed under previous coordinator Bruce Arians since 2007, and one with basically the same terminology since Mike Mularkey was promoted to the job in 2001. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger estimated that the new offense will be 90 percent different than that of Arians with new terminology.
The veterans have been digesting Haley's offense for three weeks in classrooms and now will get a chance to put it to work on the field, although, by rule, with no pads in these sessions.
The new 10-year CBA negotiated last year, which ended the lockout, reduced the number of OTAs from 14 to 10, plus a minicamp.
The Steelers have seven of their nine rookies under contract, with only DeCastro and third-round pick Sean Spence, a linebacker, not signed. Spence, though, is permitted to attend OTAs.
While not required, OTAs are usually well attended, with players missing a few here or there for various reasons. There are some exceptions; Troy Polamalu often does not attend until minicamp, preferring to work out with his personal trainer in California.
Practices are not open to the public.
First Published May 20, 2012 12:00 AM