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WR Wallace a no-show at minicamp

| Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 8:38 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Steelers receiver Mike Wallace drags his foot in bounds on a touchdown catch in front of the Bengals' Kelly Jennings during the second quarter Sunday December 4, 2011 at Heinz Field. (Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review)

Mike Wallace was a no-show Tuesday for the first day of Steelers' minicamp.

Just as predictable was the Steelers' collective shrug at their Pro Bowl receiver's absence.

“It's probably some short-term misery,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Hopefully there will be some closure to this, and it will be in the rearview mirror at some point. Obviously he'd be better served if he were here working.”

Wallace, unhappy with the one-year contract the Steelers offered him in March, has skipped every offseason practice. The Steelers can't fine Wallace for missing any of the five minicamp practices, even though they are mandatory, because he is not under contract.

They can reduce the $2.7 million offer they made to Wallace as a restricted free agent by a little more than $2 million if he doesn't sign before Saturday.

The Steelers have said they want to sign Wallace, who is 25 and coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, to a long-term contract. But they may be reluctant to pay him top dollar given some of the salary-cap issues they've had to work through and the fact receiver Antonio Brown, the team MVP in 2011, is a restricted free agent after this season.

While he has stayed away from practices, Wallace has kept in touch with some of his teammates. He also picked up new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's playbook in early May.

“I'd love to have him here because he's a great friend and great teammate, but I'm not worried,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “I know he's going to get here when it's right and when they get something done.”

Tomlin said he has no reservations about Wallace keeping himself in shape or learning the playbook. But he made it clear that Wallace is missing valuable practice time, particularly with the Steelers installing a new offense.

“I'm sure he's working at the learning element of it, but there's no substitute for being here and being around your teammates and learning the nuances and learning from other people's mistakes,” Tomlin said.

Wallace has not returned repeated messages from the Tribune-Review, and the fourth-year man he has not indicated whether he will report for training camp in late July.

“I know both parties want (Wallace) to be here,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “I know Mike. He's going to come in, and he's going to be productive.”

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com.

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