Steelers turn focus toward Polamalu contract
With LaMarr Woodley's contract done, the Steelers will turn their efforts toward signing safety Troy Polamalu to a long-term deal. Polamalu, who will become an unrestricted free agent following the season, signed a 5-year, $33 million deal in 2007 that made him the highest paid safety in the league at the time.
"My only comment is, because I know things can really get misconstrued a lot, is that everything regarding our contract talks will stay between the Rooneys and my agent," Polamalu said. "Other than that, I would love to retire a Pittsburgh Steeler." When asked if talks have already begun, Polamalu smirked before saying: "I'd love to retire a Pittsburgh Steeler."
Polamalu, 30, is entering his ninth year. He would like his next contract to be his last.
"That all depends on the years," Polamalu said. "If it is a one-year (contract) of course it wouldn't be." San Diego signed safety Eric Weddle to a 5-year, $40 million deal last week that should increase Polamalu's market value.
» Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders had an X-ray on his injured left foot and required minor surgery Tuesday. He was able to remove the protective walking boot.
"It feels good," Sanders said. "It is just a progression."
Sanders had surgery in April for a small stress fracture where he had a screw inserted into his foot. Doctors did a procedure Tuesday to try to expedite the healing. Sanders is expected to miss three weeks.
» With temperatures soaring at St. Vincent College, undrafted rookie free agent defensive end Ty Boyle is handling the weather nicely. That's saying something about a kid who went to North Dakota and grew up in the self-proclaimed 'Ice Box of the Nation' — International Falls, Minn., where the temperature once got to minus-40 degrees.
"Winters are definitely cold there," Boyle said. "I don't think they cancel school unless it is negative-30."
Boyle, the brother-in-law of Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse, hopes to catch on with the Steelers, but knows the odds are stacked against him.
"It's just cool to be in the same room and learning from Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith," Boyle said.
INSIDE THE ROPES
» Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher walked into Latrobe Memorial Stadium amid the cheers of adoring fans. He tipped his hat before strutting on the field. Cowher chatted with coach Mike Tomlin and director of football operations Kevin Colbert. The CBS analyst signed autographs before a live radio show. Cowher pushed back against talk of returning to the sidelines.
"I'm looking forward to getting back in the booth," said Cowher, who added it was good to be back at high school stadium on a Friday night. "I don't have any plans. I take it year to year."
» In a spirited backs-on-backers drill, running backs Mewelde Moore, Jamie McCoy and Baron Batch stood out. Batch, considered a long shot for a roster spot, didn't give an inch even against linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who earlier this week signed a $61 million deal.
» Wide receiver Antonio Brown is fired up and ready to go. Brown, vying for the punt-return duties, turned heads with several catches, including a circus grab near the sidelines. He also beat two defenders in the corner of the end zone in pulling in a touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
» For the first this preseason, the kickers worked their legs in drill. Shaun Suisham and Swayze Waters split the uprights consistently. Suisham is expected to win the job, but Waters showed off his powerful leg during kickoff and field goal drills.
» Quarterback Byron Leftwich ran the two-minute drill to near perfection. But got plenty of help from running back Isaac Redman.
» Former Wisconsin running back John Clay struggled some in the backs-on-backers drill. He did shine some in the control scrimmage. He appeared to have a better grasp of the offense than some expected.
» Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders sat out practice again. But he was among number of players signing autographs for a crowd of nearly 5,000.
» Defensive back Keenan Lewis practiced for the first time.
Measurables: 6-foot-4, 271 pounds
College: Miami (Fla.), 4th-year free agent
Competition: Atkins spent time in the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos camps the past few years after being selected in the 4th round of the 2007 draft by Seattle. In a crowded position, Atkins could sneak in as a backup to LaMarr Woodley.
Camp moment: During Friday's night practice at Latrobe's Memorial Stadium, Atkins looked solid in 'backs on backers when he beat veteran tight end John Gilmore cleanly almost knocking him to the ground, then beat him again on a re-do. Atkins won a couple more 1-on-1s, including one against camp phenom Baron Batch.
Quotable: "This is an ongoing month long test throughout the preseason to just try to come out on top. All I can do is put the best work out there and see where it goes."