Edwards not concerned about Mathis

Troy Edwards isn't worried that his days in Pittsburgh may be numbered.

Unaffected by the Steelers' efforts to replace him during the offseason, Troy Edwards will enter training camp in two weeks knowing that his days in Pittsburgh may be numbered.

But Edwards isn't losing any sleep about what might happen.

"If they get rid of me, then I thank Pittsburgh for the opportunity that they gave me," Edwards said. "They drafted me first, they taught me how to play receiver. I'm an honest man. Sometimes, I would have cut myself the way I played. But right now, I feel pretty good and I think I deserve to be here."

Edwards never really blossomed into the receiver the Steelers felt he would be when they selected him with the 13th-overall pick in the 1999 draft.

He caught a team-rookie record 61 passes in his first season, but lost his starting job in 2000, when he had just 18 receptions. Edwards moped through much of that season, turning coaches off with his attitude.

Edwards' attitude improved in 2001, even if his numbers did not. Even though he caught just 19 passes for 283 yards, Edwards played well on special teams, making 16 tackles and leading the team with a 23.1 average on kickoff returns.

But in the AFC Championship Game, Edwards made a crucial mistake, running out of bounds untouched while covering a punt, resulting in a penalty. The Steelers were forced to re-kick the ball and Troy Brown returned that one for a touchdown in New England's 24-17 win over the Steelers.

With No. 3 receiver Bobby Shaw leaving as a free agent, Edwards could have jumped into that position. Instead, he balked at the idea of becoming a slot receiver, forcing the Steelers to look for other options.

The team drafted Antwaan Randle El in the second round of this year's draft and then signed veteran Terrance Mathis during mini-camp last month to fill the slot position.

Still, Edwards remains unfazed.

"Anyone can get you out of here," he said. "I can't worry about that. I talked to coach (Bill) Cowher after the season. He knew I wanted to play more, so they put me on the expansion draft list. Houston didn't take me. Damn Houston, now. I'm here. I want to be a Steeler. I think I'll be a Steeler."

But for a player who counts $1.45 million against the team's salary cap this season, Edwards may be a luxury the Steelers are unable to afford. Though releasing him would only save the team $525,000 this season, for a team that is $2.61 million under this year's cap and must still sign most of its free agents and defensive end Aaron Smith, it may become a necessity.


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