Steelers guard Faneca skips minicamp
Six-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, who has not participated in any of the offseason conditioning workouts, missed the beginning of the Pittsburgh Steelers' first full-squad minicamp under rookie coach Mike Tomlin on Friday and is expected to boycott all three days of the weekend practice sessions.
The team's top lineman and a fixture at left guard since moving into the starting lineup midway through his rookie campaign, Faneca is reportedly upset with his contract. The deal runs only through the 2007 season, at a base salary of $3.375 million, and progress toward a possible extension has been slow.
Faneca also publicly questioned the franchise's choice of Tomlin as the successor to former head coach Bill Cowher. The nine-year veteran noted earlier this spring that he felt the job should have gone to offensive line coach Russ Grimm, who was a finalist for the position. Grimm subsequently left the Steelers join the staff of another former Pittsburgh assistant, Ken Whisenhunt, who is the Arizona Cardinals' new head coach.
Team officials have not commented on Faneca's absence.
The Steelers paid Faneca a $1 million roster bonus early last month, but he has steadfastly avoided the offseason program. Since attendance at this weekend's minicamp is voluntary, he cannot be fined for missing it.
Tomlin will convene a mandatory minicamp next month, over the Mother's Day weekend, and Faneca will be subject to fines if he does not attend.
Faneca, 30, was the team's first-round choice in the 1998 draft, one of only nine guards chosen in the first rounds of the past 10 drafts. The former LSU standout, who has been a team captain for the past three seasons, has missed only two games in his career and has started in 137 of 142 contests in which he has appeared.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.