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Steelers notebook: Wallace working toward starting opener

| Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, 4:58 p.m.

Steelers receiver Mike Wallace isn't saying whether he'll start in Denver on Sunday, less than a week after ending his extended holdout. The way he's talking, he'll be satisfied merely with playing.

Wallace worked extensively in practice Thursday — fellow receiver Antonio Brown said he was as fast as ever — but said later he will be happy with any role offensive coordinator Todd Haley has for him.

“We'll have to see on Sunday,” Wallace said. “I'm working towards it (starting). I've been out there practicing pretty hard — to get to where I need to be. We'll see if I'm ready to play on Sunday. But I'm feeling pretty good.”

Wallace has only a couple of more days to negotiate the new contract he wants or he must play out the season at the $2.7 million salary he was tendered as a restricted free agent. The Steelers have a policy of not negotiating contracts during the season.

• James Harrison wasn't in as talkative a mood as Wallace. The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker didn't practice Thursday because of his left knee injury, then posted a couple of signs near his locker warning reporters he wouldn't speak about his status until Friday. Harrison wanted to see how his knee, which was surgically repaired last month, would hold up during practice. He also posted a message on Twitter that read, “I will be practicing tomorrow (Friday) and have a little better idea if I'll be ready to go Sunday night.” Harrison would be replaced by second-year linebacker Chris Carter, who played almost exclusively on special teams last season. “He played the whole preseason like he wants to be here and he wants to be on the field,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “That did not go unnoticed.”

• Running back Baron Batch (groin) also didn't practice Thursday. Outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who missed training camp with a wrist injury, went through a full workout, as did running back Isaac Redman (ankle).

• Haley didn't offer any hints whether Redman or Jonathan Dwyer would start at running back, or if Rashard Mendenhall (knee) would play. Mendenhall practiced all week, only eight months since tearing an ACL. “We have a plan, but I am not going to tell you,” Haley said smiling. “We are excited about the group. Mendenhall is back, whether that's this week, next week or whenever it happens. He is getting himself ready to go. We have nice variables at the running back position. We have some big guys that can move piles. We have some quick guys, and we have some in-between guys.”

• Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney said Art Modell, the former Browns and Ravens owner, was influential in the NFL becoming as popular as it is today. Modell, who helped elevate the league's stature by negotiating some of its lucrative TV contracts, died Thursday at age 87. “Art Modell was a good friend to our family, and he will be sadly missed. He was instrumental in helping the National Football League become what it is today, and he always had the league's best interest at hand,” Rooney said in a statement issued by the team.

— Alan Robinson

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