PITTSBURGH -- Joey Porter showed up at the Pittsburgh Steelers' training facility yesterday, but only to grab a sandwich.
Porter left without commenting on why he's missed all four of the coaching sessions this spring. The Steelers say it may have something to do with a knee surgery Porter intends to undergo, possibly as early as Wednesday. But other sources believe it has more to do with a contract snit that's brewing between Porter and the team.
Porter has two years remaining on a contract that will pay him salaries of $3.85 million this season and $4 million in 2007. The Steelers generally don't renegotiate contracts with two seasons remaining, but made an exception for quarterback Tommy Maddox prior to the 2004 season. It's unlikely the Steelers will make an exception for players at any other position.
"It's the ugly part of this business," said linebacker Clark Haggans. "He wants to be satisfied. We miss him but obviously his primary focus is to try to get it done and over with. He's a leader but he's thinking about his family."
Porter attended the team's three-day mandatory minicamp May 13-15, but two days later missed the first of three coaching sessions that week.
The coaching sessions are voluntary, but do the players view them as such?
"No," said safety Troy Polamalu, "but there's a business aspect that is the other side of this game that people tend to overlook. Joey's just really involved in that right now."
The Steelers will conduct two more coaching sessions this week and eight more the ensuing two weeks. A source said that Porter may continue to miss practices in training camp, which opens July 28.
"That's far ahead," said Haggans. "Everybody's counting on him being in. You know how Joey is. You know he's going to be ready. As soon as football comes around he'll be ready when he steps on the field."
Porter has been replaced at right outside linebacker by James Harrison, who recently signed a $5.5-million deal for four years.
"I don't think it will have any effect on us," said Polamalu. "I think we all support Joey and what he does."
NOTE – Center Jeff Hartings missed Tuesday's practice but is expected back Wednesday.