Notebook: Narrowing the Field at OT

The Steelers treated a rumor as fact -- for the benefit of the media on reporting day.

LATROBE — [Friday morning update] The Steelers signed tackles Willie Colon and Jon Scott, and cut Flozell Adams. But all is not black and white with Colon at RT and Scott at LT, because the team's newspaper is reporting that the Steelers could re-sign Max Starks.

Start with Colon, whom the Post-Gazette reported has signed a 5-year, $29 million contract with a $6 million signing bonus. With a $1.5 million salary this year, Colon's cap hit would be $2.7 million.

Steelers Digest is apparently jumping into the news reporting realm. It reported the release this morning of Adams, and that the team has signed Scott. It also mentioned that "sources" indicate the team could re-sign Starks. (When "sources" tell the team newspaper something, think Art Rooney II or someone that significant.)

In Thursday news, much of the talk centered on those who aren't here yet, those who won't be back and, of course, one who might be coming back.

Reporting day began with news that two veterans, tackle Max Starks and receiver Antwaan Randle El, had been released. That came shortly after it was reported that Plaxico Burress has a Saturday dinner date with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

While half of the players were intent on saying goodbye to Starks and Randle El, the Burress news carried the day.

"It wouldn't be bad to have a star receiver like that," said LaMarr Woodley, a renowned Michigan man. "Even if he is a Spartan (Michigan State man), he's the kind of player who can help us win super bowls."

"He's a playmaker," offensive lineman Doug Legursky said. "If he comes on board, we'll welcome him with open arms."

Even the Steelers newer wide receivers, players who missed Burress's first era with the Steelers (2000-05), are hoping, at least outwardly, that he signs to come back here.

"I think it would be great. Whoever wants to put their hand in the pile," said Emmanuel Sanders. "He's a 6-5 receiver and we don't have any of those. He'll upgrade our red zone offense."

You would think players like Sanders, Antonio Brown and perhaps even Mike Wallace might worry about losing playing time to a proven commodity like Burress, even two years removed from playing a meaningful snap.

"He's not a threat to me at all," Brown snapped back. "I'm looking forward to more playing time."

Asked if he expects more punt return duty in the absence of Randle El, Brown smiled.

"Watch the film," he said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Of course, Wallace, never one to back down from a challenge, was almost bubbly in talking about the possibility of Burress returning to the team that drafted him in the first round in 2000.

"I'd love to have him," Wallace said. "He's a great player and, from what I've heard, he's a great teammate."

WORDS FROM CLARK: Safety Ryan Clark has been outspoken throughout the lockout, as the team's player rep should be. He attracted a gaggle of microphones and minicams, not to mention more than a few notebooks.

Clark was happy to hear Ike Taylor had signed on to stay with the Steelers and, conversely, sad to have to say goodbye to Starks and Randle El.

"That's part of the salary cap, part of the business we are in," Clark said. "If we'd have accepted the first offer from the owners, we'd be losing about a third of these guys. As for Ike, I'm glad he got compensated well and I'm excited that he's staying here in Pittsburgh."

Asked what he thought about Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's tougher stance on player safety, which could result in fines and/or suspensions, Clark said:

"What we need to do is not give him the opportunity (to fine or suspend), both on and off the field."

MORE ON MAX: Legursky quashed rumors that Starks had been released in part because he was overweight or that his surgically repaired neck had not healed completely.

"That wasn't an issue at all," Legursky said. "I spoke to him last week and he was ready to go."

That makes the cut what everybody thought it was: A means to help the Steelers whittle their salary cap overage. Piece by piece, they'll get there.

"We lost Max and that's tough," said center Maurkice Pouncey. "But we have to keep going. We're professionals and we have to act like it and play like it."

NEW YEAR COMING: Under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, the new NFL year doesn't arrive until Thursday, Aug. 4. That is why even veteran players who have agreed to new contract terms, like Taylor, cannot participate in full-pad practice until then.

"I'm happy to be here now, but I'll be really excited when we have everybody here," said Clark.

THE WIDEOUTS: Brown and Sanders did the math and calculated that an average of 62.5 yards per game would give them a 1,000-yard season.

Not to be outdone, Wallace did a bit of math himself.

"I'm excited about that," Wallace said when told of the goals of Brown and Sanders. "That'd be good if they could both get it. I'd like to get to 2,000, myself."

Asked if that was an attainable goal, Wallace said, "I averaged over 20 yards per catch (21.0) last year, so if I catch 100 balls, that's 2,000."

AND FINALLY: Best quote of the day, hands down, goes to Clark. He was asked if linebacker James Harrison had been too honest in his interview with a men's magazine:

"No. There's nothing wrong with honesty. The world is a lot like a girlfriend. They want honesty, but when you give it to them, they start to cry about it."


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