Steelers have no plans to deal Wallace
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The Steelers do not expect Mike Wallace to report to training camp before they depart Saint Vincent College Aug. 18, but they have no intention of trading their Pro Bowl wide receiver at any point this season, a team source told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Wallace has yet to sign a one-year tender worth $2.7 million, and the Steelers have not heard from him since training camp began July 25. Several players, however, have remained in contact with him.
The source also said the Steelers will wait several weeks before they decide if they need to sign a veteran free-agent receiver if Wallace doesn't report.
The Steelers believe they have been more than fair with Wallace because they did not rescind or reduce his one-year tender in June -- which they were entitled to do under the guidelines of the collective bargaining agreement.
But they also told Wallace they will not have any further discussions on a potential long-term contract until he signs his tender and reports to the team.
The Steelers are not overly optimistic they can sign Wallace to a long-term deal, but he can play for them this season and then be labeled a "franchise" or "transition" player in 2013.
Wallace's holdout has upset coach Mike Tomlin, who is no longer supportive of his big-play receiver, a team source said.
After sitting out the past two days with an injured foot, Ben Roethlisberger returned to practice Tuesday afternoon and is expected to play Thursday night in the preseason opener in Philadelphia.
Roethlisberger took part in an early 11-on-11 team drill and did participate after that.
Tomlin did not say how he will use his quarterbacks against the Eagles, only that No. 4 Jerrod Johnson will play most of the second half. But he said both starting units will play a minimum of one to two series.
Tomlin said offensive guard Willie Colon and defensive end Cameron Heyward already have been ruled out for the Eagles game.
Heyward, last year's No. 1 pick, got hit in the back in the Friday night scrimmage at Latrobe Stadium and has not returned to practice.
"I assure you the first group will be one to two series apiece," Tomlin said. "But we're not opposed to giving people within those groups extra work as we deem necessary."
The coaches are eager to get a look at rookie running back Chris Rainey, their No. 5 pick from Florida, and they won't waste any time.
Rainey will return kickoffs and punts to start the game, and offensive coordinator Todd Haley said he has been excited to see the 5-foot-8, 180-pounder from Florida from the day they drafted him.
"He's someone from the start, even in the draft process, we were excited about because he is a little different than anything on the roster," Haley said. "He obviously has special-team skills everyone is excited to see.
"I'm excited about the whole backfield.
"The cupboard is not bare there. There's a nice mix of talent there and young, energized guys."
Do not be in a hurry to label David Johnson solely a fullback this year.
Tomlin said he will move Johnson back to tight end next week and give him some work there. In all likelihood, Johnson will assume the same role he did last year -- as a blocking back who can also line as an extra tight end.
"I'm not ready to say Johnson is exclusively a fullback," Tomlin said.
"We made a commitment to work him at fullback in the early spring to give him exposure, but I also found the opportunity to play him at tight end. You'll see when we get back from Philadelphia, we'll allow him to play tight end some. His position flexibility is an asset.
"We're not opposed to him playing tight end, and he will."
• Game: Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles in the preseason opener for both teams, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
• TV: KDKA.
• Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970) and the Steelers Radio Network.
• Of note: The Steelers' Saint Vincent College camp will be closed to the public today. The next open practice is 3 p.m. Saturday.
First Published August 8, 2012 12:00 am