If you have stayed caught up on Steelers’ third round pick, rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton, you know that the 5’11” 189 pound wide receiver is unable to participate in any offseason program. Wheaton has yet to graduate from Oregon State in what they call the quarters system. Until Wheaton graduates, which will not be until after mandatory minicamp, he is ineligible under the Collective Bargaining Agreement of the National Football League to participate.
Wheaton, however, was able to take part in rookie minicamp held on May 3-5. Three days of practice, meetings, and getting to know coaches and fellow rookies.
With Wheaton ineligible to participate in anything else until training camp, he will have missed 13 days of practice. A time that is so critical for all rookies to help their early stages of development and bond with the veterans of the team before training camp.
Jerricho Cotchery said the same thing after day five of OTA’s were concluded, and that this time is even critical for the vets on the football team.
“This process is huge in the offseason,” said Cotchery. “We will be able to catch him up. We will be able to catch him up, but you can never get these reps back. Even these reps are valuable to veterans.”
Granted, Markus Wheaton most definitely has a playbook and I am sure he is studying his new offense hard, but not being out there learning with everyone else is unfortunate. Wheaton being absent puts a lot more pressure on him at training camp to get up to speed with the rest of the offense.
Wheaton is coming into an offense that is moving away from former wide receiver Mike Wallace who left the team via free agency, and looking to get back on track with another talented group of receivers. Although this is not something that will affect Wheaton for years to come, it does put a hold on the development of the wide receivers.
When training camp starts at the end of July, the freshly graduated Oregon State wide receiver will need to work hard and fast to get caught up to speed with his teammates. Wheaton will be the second flanker receiver most likely, but how will this loss of practice treat the young receiver in training camp? We play the waiting game for now.