Pouncey agrees to deal with Steelers, who will put him to work

LATROBE, Pa. -- First-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey had a five-year contract waiting for him at Pittsburgh Steelers training camp. Plus an early morning wake-up call.

Pouncey, the former star center at Florida, reached undisclosed financial terms Friday, but he didn't arrive in time to complete the traditional camp-opening run tests. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Pouncey wouldn't be excused and that his sprints would take place at 6 a.m. ET Saturday, three hours before the first practice of camp.

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While Pouncey is expected to spend most of his Steelers career at center, he'll compete at right guard with Trai Essex, who started all 16 games there last season.

Pouncey, the No. 18 overall 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 Pouncey 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 haven't 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 the Dallas Cowboys. Starks played two seasons on the right side in 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 Adams, 35, 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, an outside linebacker from Virginia Tech, signed his four-year contract Friday and will practice with the Steelers on Saturday.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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