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Steelers Notebook: Sprints fail to arouse the competitor in Edwards

Saturday, July 31, 1999

By Ed Bouchette, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Rookie wide receiver Troy Edwards advised reporters beforehand that he wasn't a conditioning freak, then went out and proved it.

The Steelers' first-round draft choice wobbled through a series of 14 40-yard runs, trailing the field in a group that consisted mainly of defensive backs. He finished the runs, but just barely.

"I hate conditioning," Edwards said before the running drills, which Coach Bill Cowher moved from 3 p.m to 2 p.m. because of the oppressive heat. "I'm a competitor. I can't go against the air and fight the air. I have no one to fight against or talk back to me. When I go against somebody, I'll go against you all day. But running against the air is kind of hard for me to do, I can't do that well. Don't expect much on the conditioning part."

Cowher said Edwards "could have done better. But the first time you run this test, you may underestimate what it's all about. Troy came up and said, 'Hey that was pretty tough.' "

The only thing impressive about Edwards was the heavy gold necklace that bounced around as he ran. He won't be permitted to wear it in games, but his was merely the heaviest of other gold chains and earrings glistening in the hot afternoon sun.

"It's the times," Cowher said of all the jewelry displayed on the practice field. "You can't play in it. But hey, if they want to run in it, that's fine. That's additional weight. I know if it was me, I'd be taking off as much weight as I had on me."

No sweat

Edwards, a Louisiana native, said he wasn't bothered by the 92-degree temperature and 102 degree heat index on the practice field. "It's no factor. I like the heat. It don't really bother me. I just left 100 degree weather."

Smith still unsigned

The Steelers still have not reached a contract agreement with their fourth-round draft choice, Aaron Smith, baffling many of them, including Cowher.

"I am very, very surprised," Cowher said. "It seems like, 'What's wrong with this picture?' would apply to this."

Smith, a defensive end out of Northern Colorado and the sixth of the Steelers' 11 draft picks, is the only player not under contract.

Something to prove

Safety Lee Flowers on the attitude of the Steelers as they start practices with two today: "We're excited right now. After coming off a 7-9 season it's like we have something to prove. That team you all saw last year wasn't us. It's 1999 right now, it's a whole new season and we got to get ready to play some football."

Strzelczyk move

The Steelers put injured offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk on the physically unable to perform/reserve list, making him ineligible for this season.

No days off

With training camp shortened to three weeks, the Steelers do not have off until Aug. 8. They have two practices today, one tomorrow and two on Monday before the Washington Redskins arrive Tuesday for a joint practice. ... Afternoon practices, which begin at 3, are open to the public, but morning drills are closed.

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