Steelers players looking for the green light

| Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011

Ike Taylor opted for a traffic analogy when asked Wednesday about his unique situation.

"When they give me the green light, I'm going to be ready," the Steelers cornerback said. "For now, I guess it's a yellow light."

Taylor and other players who had been free agents are not allowed to practice until the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, something that could happen Thursday.

The absence of such players has been noticeable in early training camp practices.

The Steelers' starting offensive tackles have been Kyle Jolly, who was on the practice squad in 2010, and Chris Scott, who wasn't active for any games last season.

Cornerback Niles Brinkley, a rookie free agent, has worked with the first team because of injuries and the fact Taylor and William Gay are spectators until the start of the NFL's new year, which doesn't begin until the CBA is ratified.

As for what will happen if players miss more practice time, Ryan Clark, the Steelers' union representative, said, "Each person is different. Honestly, I could play a game tomorrow, condition-wise, football-wise, knowing the system. I feel like Ike Taylor could not practice the whole preseason and be effective Day One, but you can't say that for every guy."

Nor is every player in the same situation.

Taylor is the Steelers' best cornerback and assured of a starting job. Other free agents are battling for starting jobs and roster spots.

Following practice yesterday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was asked if he anticipated having the free agents in pads today.

"Right now, in my mind, I expect those guys to participate," Tomlin said.

Tomlin added that he hasn't thought about how much practice the free agents would need to be ready for the team's preseason opener a week from Friday against the Washington Redskins.

Taylor, who agreed to a four-year deal July 26, said he won't be behind, no matter how long the ninth-year veteran has to wait.

"I'm ready now," Taylor said. "I took a week off after the Super Bowl. That was it. That should let you know right there."

Clark, journalist exchange words

Steelers safety Ryan Clark and a local radio talk show host had to be separated Wednesday outside the cafeteria at St. Vincent College.

Clark took exception to questions posed by ESPN 970 AM's Joe Bendel about whether grievances with the owners and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell extended to Steelers president Art Rooney II.

Clark praised Rooney, and the situation quickly escalated as he and Bendel exchanged words. A Steelers media relations staffer and safety Will Allen helped defuse the situation, which happened around lunchtime.

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