Steelers notebook: Hood among those looking to secure next contract
Ryan Clark, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Emmanuel Sanders, Jason Worilds, Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Jerricho Cotchery are key Steelers who are in the final season of their contracts. There are no known ongoing contract talks with any of them, although Sanders, who was offered a contract by the Patriots during the offseason, would be the logical top candidate for such discussions.
While players often insist before a season that a new contract isn’t a primary focus, many say after a season that, indeed, it was always in the back of their minds.
Clark wants to return next season, while Keisel, who will be 35 in September, could retire.
Hood, a former first-round draft pick who has yet to distinguish himself as an NFL defensive end, knows it might take a breakout season to land another multiyear contract with any team, not just the Steelers.
“As long as I do whatever I can and I lay it out on the line, I can wake up the next morning and say I gave it everything I got,” he said. “If it just doesn’t flow, it doesn’t flow, then I’m OK with it.”
He also said he expects the Steelers to see “maybe more than they expected” from him.
• A season ago, Mike Wallace’s contract holdout was the dominant story early in training camp. By this stage of camp, the Steelers already had given Antonio Brown a new $42.5 million contract. But there’s been no such deal for Sanders, who has given no hint to what it would take to retain him. His negotiating position was enhanced when the Patriots offered him a contract as a restricted free agent, the first player in three years to be given such a deal. The Patriots’ offer forced the Steelers to pay Sanders $2.5 million to retain him, or $500,000 more than their initial tender. “I’m not too concerned about it,” Sanders said. “At the end of the day, the contract will work itself out.”
• The Steelers practice in pads for the first time Monday. The collective bargaining agreement reached two years ago mandated no contact work early in camp. To coach Mike Tomlin, that means it’s like “the first day in school.” Position battles such as Jason Worilds/Jarvis Jones at outside linebacker and Isaac Redman/Jonathan Dwyer/Le’Veon Bell at running back can’t begin to be sorted out until contact work begins. The Steelers gave their players the morning off Sunday, which created the unusual sight of players — mostly rookies and first-year players — going through a walk-through with fans in the St. Vincent grandstands about two hours before the scheduled practice began at 3 p.m. Normally, fans and reporters are not permitted to watch walk-throughs.
• Cortez Allen, now a starter at cornerback, and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke left practice early Sunday — Allen with knee discomfort, Van Dyke with a hamstring injury, Tomlin said. Their status is likely to be updated Monday. Allen wore an ice bag on his knee when practice ended. With Allen out, Curtis Brown took over at cornerback and was beaten once in deep coverage by Emmanuel Sanders but came back to cut in front of Sanders and intercept a Ben Roethlisberger pass. Brown is also getting work as William Gay’s backup at nickel back. “It’s my third year in the NFL, and people are expecting me to play more defense. Right now, everybody knows me as a gunner and a special-teams player,” Brown said. “For right now, I’m going to give it my all for special teams, but at the same time, I have to step up in other areas of the game.”
• Roethlisberger still finds himself thinking at times how close the Steelers were to being a good team last season, when five of their eight losses were by three points. “Obviously it’s frustrating because you know you were so close,” he said. “It was one of those seasons where you know the ball has to bounce your way. There is a lot of luck in this game, and sometimes it’s not your season. Sometimes it’s not your season as an individual. One year I threw a bunch of interceptions, and you know what? I had a bad season. Last year was one of those seasons where we were close and almost had it. But we can’t dwell on almost. We have to say, ‘Let’s move on.’ ”
• Right tackle Mike Adams, a stabbing victim less than two months ago, practiced fully on the first two days of camp and has shown no ill effects from his injuries. Adams is the only one of the five starting offensive linemen who doesn’t practice with a knee brace. … Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn and assistant GM Scott Perry attended Steelers camp over the weekend to watch how Tomlin deals with his players. Tomlin is one of only five NFL coaches on Twitter, and he posted a picture of himself with Vaughn and Perry.