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Steelers WR Wallace can learn offense

| Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 7:54 p.m.
Steelers Offensive Coordimator Todd Haley watches Antonio Brown make a catch during OTAs on the South Side on Tuesday, May 22, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

Mike Wallace was missing from Tuesday's offseason workout, yet the receiver might already be learning the new Steelers offense elsewhere.

The restricted free agent visited last week and talked with coach Mike Tomlin. When Wallace left, he took with him a playbook, said friend and teammate Antonio Brown.

“He's going to be studying, so when he comes he knows (the plays),” Brown said.

The Steelers have begun installing the offense of new coordinator Todd Haley. But Wallace hasn't yet signed his one-year, $2.742 million offer, so he wasn't around yesterday for the first of 10 optional practices.

“Hopefully he can get here soon,” Brown said, “so he can get on board.”

Wallace wants a long-term contract. If he doesn't sign his tender by June 15, under CBA guidelines, the Steelers could reduce their current offer to 110 percent of his 2011 salary, which was $580,000. The team has mandatory practices June 12-14, but Wallace could again be absent if still unsigned.

“This process is going to run its course,” said Tomlin, who described last week's meeting with Wallace as “good communication.”

“It will be a little bit of short-term misery,” Tomlin said, “but it won't be significant in the big scheme of things, hopefully.”

• After just one practice, receiver Emmanuel Sanders was “loving the offense” that Haley has built. “It is a totally different playbook,” said Sanders, who noted some added play-action routes. “It's 90 percent different, and we have to be here so when training camp starts we can hit the ground running.” Sanders also said he expects to add punt returns to his duties, replacing Brown in that special teams role.

• Cornerback Ike Taylor missed the team's first practice but will participate today, he said during his TribLive internet radio show yesterday afternoon. Defensive end Brett Keisel also was absent, as were rookies David DeCastro, Mike Adams and Alameda Ta'amu. The rookies can't attend until their spring semesters end.

• Former Steelers receiver Hines Ward was in Harrisburg to be recognized for his accomplishments on and off the field by the state House and Senate and Gov. Tom Corbett. In a statement to the House, Ward expressed his gratitude for the recognition: “Hopefully, I can continue to represent the state of Pennsylvania the best that I possibly can off the field now and heading to the next chapter of my life.”

— Chris Harlan

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