Steelers WR Draws Line In Sand

Steelers WR Draws Line In Sand

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress drew a line in the sand with the team Friday, failing to show up at the team's mini-camp.

"His agent informed us that he would not be attending the camp," said Steelers head coach Bill Cowher. "This is an unexcused absence and I'm disappointed in his decision. We will move on with or without him."

Burress, who is coming off a poor season, is heading into the final season of his rookie contract and wants a new deal before the regular season begins. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $413,000 this season and counts $1.875 million against the team's salary cap.

The Steelers are reluctant to give Burress a new contract coming off a 2003 season in which he caught just 60 passes for 860 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Burress' holdout is believed to be the first in mini-camp under Cowher. Several players, Barry Foster and Gary Anderson among them, have held out of training camp in the hopes of gaining a new contract.

In other news from the opening of camp Friday, Chris Hope lined up with the first team defense at free safety, with Troy Polamalu lining up next to him at strong safety.

"He's ready, it's his time," Cowher said of Hope. "Just like it's Clark's (Haggans) time."

Hope, Polamalu and Haggans - who is in the starting lineup at Jason Gildon's outside linebacker spot - were the three new starters on defense.

Offensively, newcomer Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis split time at the first-team running back position.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looked sharp throwing the ball in the seven-on-seven drills. He looked especially mobile in the team portion, rolling out to his right and firing a bullet to tight end Robert Blizzard on a 10-yard out in front of Polamalu.

Alonzo Jackson and Nathaniel Adibi were the second-team outside linebackers.

Kendrell Bell had the only interception of the morning session, picking off Tommy Maddox on the second play of the team portion and returning it for a touchdown. Sound familiar?

Offensive tackle Josh Burr did not participate in drills after tearing his right ACL in NFL Europe.

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