Steelers notebook: WR Sanders is focused on winning, not extension

| Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

Emmanuel Sanders knows the clock is ticking when it comes to signing a long-term extension with the Steelers, but that doesn't mean the receiver is dwelling on the fact.

The Steelers matched New England's restricted free-agent offer to Sanders during the spring, ensuring his return for this year.

After that, all bets are off.

“If I am here, I am here. If I am not, I'm not,” Sanders said. “I am not really worried about the business side of it. This is the one year that I have right now and I want to win a Super Bowl.”

Sanders, a third-round pick out of SMU in 2010, said he is more interested that he is healthy for the first time in his career and is getting the opportunity to be a starter.

“It is like every other season, and I am honest when I tell you this,” he said. “I really don't think about the contract.”

Sanders, who has had two foot surgeries and a knee surgery during his short career, will play the “Z” wide receiver spot this year that typically sees more one-on-one coverage and more blocking responsibilities.

Ta'amu was afraid

Nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu spent the past week on the physically unable to perform list with a sore hamstring he injured before the start of training camp.

Ta'amu said it's been three weeks since he heard a pop in his hamstring while running.

“When it happened, I was scared to tell them, but I had to,” Ta'amu said.

• Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell excited the crowd with several runs during the evening practice at St. Vincent. But coach Mike Tomlin was quick to temper the crowd's enthusiasm. “The crowd reacted to every ball we snapped today,” Tomlin said. “He had some moments as did some others. He's working hard and trying to do what we asked him to do, and that's a great place to start for a young guy.”

• Several players sat out practice — including linebacker Jason Worilds (toe), cornerback Marcus van Dyke (hamstring), defensive end Brett Keisel and tight end Matt Spaeth. Also, cornerback Curtis Brown's left thigh was heavily wrapped after practice, but Tomlin said none of the injuries are considered serious. But rookie guard Nik Embernate sustained a potentially season-ending knee injury Thursday. Tomlin said he tore both his ACL and MCL. “Obviously, he's down and out,” Tomlin said.

• Several NFL officials met with the Steelers to review this year's rule changes and points of emphasis — including rule that prohibits a runner or tackler from initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmets outside the tackle box. Ron Tolbert, a side judge, acknowledged a review of 2012 game film revealed that the 15-yard unnecessary roughing penalty would have been called five times. Also, the peel-back block is now illegal anywhere in the field of play. All players, except punters and kickers, are required to wear knee and thigh pads.

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