Steelers notebook: Mitchell to miss beginning of training camp
Mike Mitchell, the free safety signed to replace starter Ryan Clark, is expected to miss the first week of training camp with a groin injury.
Mitchell and running back Alvester Alexander (groin) were placed on the physically unable to perform list.
Left guard Ramon Foster is excused from camp until Monday because of the death of his mother, who was 49. Punter Adam Podlesh won't practice Saturday because his wife is expecting.
‘I'm a yinzer'
Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey landed a $48 million contract, but cornerback Ike Taylor — starting his 12th season — took a pay cut from $7 million to $2.75 million. The option was to be cut. He wasn't especially happy, but he said, “It's a business. … I'm still here. I bleed Pittsburgh. I'm a yinzer.”
He joked he's been with the team so long, his nickname is “little Rooney.” But he also realizes if he wants to play in the league next season, it might not be in Pittsburgh.
Second-year safety Shamarko Thomas spent a week this month training in San Diego with Troy Polamalu, apparently the first time Polamalu has invited a teammate to share workouts Thomas called “like a karate movie. It's ninja-like. It works for him, and I think it works for me.”
The Steelers made it a priority to upgrade their speed, and Taylor thinks this is their fastest defense since the 2004-05 teams went a combined 26-6 and won a Super Bowl.
“We were a pretty speedy defense then,” he said. But coach Mike Tomlin said, “Speed is speed. Too much has been made about it.”
No looking back
Tomlin said the Steelers won't approach training camp differently coming off successive 8-8 records than they did coming off successive 12-4 records in 2010 and 2011.
“We're here to build in 2014. What we've done in the past is in the past. ... I'm singularly focused on the now, and I'm going to say that to the football team. We're not going to carry last year's baggage, and I say that every year regardless of what transpired last year.”
First-round draft pick Ryan Shazier is part of that speed upgrade, and he worked with the starters throughout the offseason workouts. He could be the first rookie to start on defense since Kendrell Bell in 2003.
“I really like pressure and expectations,” he said. “I feel like it really makes me perform better. I feel like the more pressure on you, the more people expect out of you, I do better.”
While the Steelers went through the not-especially-taxing run test to start camp Friday, their first practice — fans can attend — is Saturday.
They can't work in pads until Monday. They will practice Saturday through Monday, take off Tuesday, then practice each of the next six days.