By John Harris
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Steelers guard Alan Faneca weighed 313 pounds on the first day of training camp at St. Vincent College, only a few pounds over last year's playing weight. He laughed easily with fellow guard Kendall Simmons during stretching exercises, and he easily completed 14 110-yard runs as part of a conditioning test administered by new coach Mike Tomlin.
Coming off his sixth Pro Bowl appearance, it isn't a stretch to say that Faneca, 30, is in the prime of his career.
"That's what I like to say," Faneca said Monday.
Here's what else Faneca had to say:
• He doesn't regret criticizing management during the team's May minicamp for not making him a competitive contract offer, nor did he back down from his promise that this will be his last season with the Steelers.
"I stand by what I said and how I said it," Faneca told reporters following the conditioning test. "Some things might have got taken a different way than maybe what I wanted to say. But I don't take anything back."
• Given everything that's taken place in recent months, Faneca said he may not be as anxious to play with injuries as he's done previously.
"There's definitely times in the past when I probably shouldn't have been on the field at all," said Faneca, who has started 80 consecutive games at left guard. "Situations like that will make me think about it this time around."
Faneca didn't deny that he still resents the way his contract negotiations were handled -- "I still feel the same way. I just have faded a little bit, I guess." -- but admitted that time has enabled him to move past the most frustrating experience of his NFL career.
"I'm here to play football," Faneca said.
He said he's happy to be reunited with his teammates, and happy for safety Troy Polamalu, who signed a four-year contract extension yesterday, a deal that Faneca has been unable to secure.
"I'm happy for Troy. That's the way it works. Troy deserves it," Faneca said.
Entering the final year of his contract, Faneca believes he also deserves an extension.
He didn't rule out returning to play for the Steelers in 2008, but there wasn't much conviction in his voice.
"The door's open; it's always open. But I don't think we're in the right building," Faneca said. "I think it's a matter of finding the door."