LATROBE, PA. (AP) - First-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey had a five-year contract waiting for him at the Pittsburgh Steelers' training camp. Plus an early morning wakeup call.
Pouncey, the former star center at Florida, reached terms Friday on his contract but didn't arrive in time to complete the traditional camp-opening run tests. Coach Mike Tomlin said he wouldn't be excused, and that Pouncey's sprints would take place at 6 a.m. EDT Saturday, three hours before the first practice of camp.
While Pouncey is expected to spend most of his Steelers career at center, he will compete during camp at right guard with Trai Essex, who started all 16 games there last season.
Pouncey, the No. 18 pick in the draft, made a relatively smooth transition into the Steelers' system during offseason workouts. Tomlin apparently prefers not to keep a player as skilled as he is on the bench, especially with the offensive line unsettled following a 9-7 season.
"Football is important to him," Tomlin said of the 6-foot-4, 304-pound Pouncey. "This is a guy who's committed to winning but doing what it takes to be a winner. He's always been associated with winning, and we like those kind of guys and putting them into the mix."
The Steelers have not had a first-round pick miss any camp time since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger signed four days after workouts began in 2004.
While there will be competition at right guard, there apparently won't be at right tackle _ unless Flozell Adams can't make the transition from left tackle. Tomlin plans to keep Max Starks at left tackle, although Adams played only left tackle during 12 seasons with Dallas. Starks played two seasons on the right side with Pittsburgh.
Adams, released by the Cowboys in April before he would have collected a $2.5 million roster bonus, will make that much in salary with the Steelers this season unless he is cut.
"He's a guy who wants to be here, he's a guy who's made a lot of money in this league and received about every personal accolade you can get. But the fire still burns," Tomlin said. "He's committed to fitting in _ those are his words, not mine _ so those are the things that make you excited."
What the Steelers must find out is if the 35-year-old Adams still has a productive season or two left in him following a drop-off in play that led the Cowboys to replace him with Doug Free.
Asked if Adams can be productive, Starks said, "If he's in shape."
Second-round pick Jason Worilds, the outside linebacker from Virginia Tech, signed his four-year contract on Friday and will practice Saturday.
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