After his long offseason holdout, Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace returned to his team on Tuesday. He arrived with some fanfare under the camera lights and will likely to jump out of the starting gate, ready to play.
Wallace said to the Associated Press of his long holdout, “I’m not dwelling on the past. I have no regrets.” While he’s a man with a team, he’s still one without a long-term deal.
This season, he’ll play as an restricted free agent with a one-year, $2.7 million tender. According to ESPN, during the season, the team doesn’t negotiate contracts. Wallace remains hopeful a deal can be done before the team’s September 9 opening game against the Denver Broncos.
Whatever transpired during his absence, Wallaced sounds committed to the Steelers. He said, “This is the team that drafted me and it’s where I want to stay. I’m not really worried about down the road. I’m worried about playing football. … That was business. I’m not on that right now. I’m here to play football and that’s it.”
Last season, Wallace had a career-high 72 passes for 1,193 yards with eight touchdowns.
Meanwhile, another player set to return to action by the season’s start is Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
News recently came out that Urlacher underwent more surgeries than initially thought in the offseason. He’s been sidelined during the preseason but he and the team have repeatedly maintained that the veteran player will be back in action for regular season play.
The clock is ticking.
On Tuesday, Bears coach Lovie Smith again said via ESPN that Urlacher is still scheduled to hit the practice field next week and subsequently play in the team’s opening game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 9.
Urlacher will return a little rusty. His last practice was July 31 and at that time, he again injured his left knee–the same one that ended his 2011 season. On Aug. 14, he had an arthroscopic procedure to help with the problem.
Smith said of Urlacher, “Brian is making a lot of progress. It’s kind of set up that way, for you guys not to see an awful lot (of what happens at practice). It wouldn’t do me any good really to talk to you about that since we really don’t want you to see an awful lot from there (the practice field). He’s making progress, I will let you know that about him. Just like we said all along, I expect to see No. 54 out on the field next week in practice and playing against the Colts.”
In the interim, Nick Roach has been pinch hitting for Urlacher and if his recovery impairs his return, the player will take over the starting role in the first game.