There's a noticeable buzz surrounding training camp thanks to various recent reports hinting Steelers' restricted free agent holdout WR Mike Wallace's return to the team.
“We don't know 100 percent if he's going to be back, but there's hope that he's going to be coming back pretty soon,” WR Emmanuel Sanders said. “We don't know the exact date, but it's looking really good.”
One report expects Wallace to return by Week 1 of the regular season, and others have speculated that the star wide receiver, who hasn't signed his $2.7-million restricted free-agent tender, could greet his teammates when they return to team facilities on the South Side of Pittsburgh.
“I look forward to seeing him hopefully sooner rather than later,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said.
If that happens, Haley said he expects to ease Wallace into the offense, taking advantage of the blazing speed that allowed him to catch 171 passes for 3,206 yards -- an average of nearly 19 yards a catch -- and 24 touchdowns in three seasons.
“I am familiar with his skill-set, which is pretty impressive,” Haley said. “You want a guy like that involved as much as you can because he's a difference maker.”
For now, one of the Steelers' biggest difference makers remains away from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., but he is reportedly still working out with speed and conditioning guru Tom Shaw at ESPN's Wide World of Sports at Disney.
“All of the guys here know Mike is working hard wherever he is,” veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. “We know he'll be ready to go once he gets here.
“Mike is a great player. We all love him, and we'll be very excited when he gets back.”
Fight! Fight! Fight! A scuffle of some kind between players has broken out at Steelers' training camp eight times during 13 padded practices.
While the number may seem alarming to some, the players aren't concerned.
“At this point in camp, everybody's tired of everybody,” said Cotchery, a nine-year veteran.
“I've seen a lot over the years at training camp, especially around this time.
“Everybody's just tired and they're ready to break camp.”
Steelers DE Brett Keisel, an 11-year veteran, can't remember a training camp that has gone by without a fight.
“I think it's a good sign,” Keisel said. “Up here at camp, we all want to compete, we're all bangin' against each other every day, so tempers flare a bit.”
The most high-profile case this year for the Steelers came Sunday when Pro Bowl WR Antonio Brown and Ike Taylor, the team's top cornerback, exchanged punches during a drill and also after practice. “It's not just the young guys who can fight,” Keisel said. “Sometimes you can only take so much, and you lose your cool a little bit. I can't sit here and say I haven't fought before, but I haven't gotten in a fight this year, so I'm proud of myself for that.”
Keisel's good luck charm: Keisel hopes the third time is a charm. He missed the team's preseason opener last Thursday at Philadelphia to be with his wife, Sarah, who gave birth to the couple's third child, a boy, William Atticus.
“We're very happy,” a beaming Keisel said Wednesday. “Our little boy is doing great, mom is at home. It's amazing.”
What might be more amazing is that each time the couple had a child, the Steelers went to the Super Bowl. There might be a little added extra pressure this time, though.
“I had my son (Jacob), and we won Super Bowl 43 in Tampa,” Keisel said. “I had my daughter (Grace), and we lost the Super Bowl. So I had another son. Now, I expect us to win.”
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