As the days wind down, training camp is almost here! Come July 25th, the Pittsburgh Steelers will report to Latrobe for training camp to kick off the 2014 season, and perhaps one of the funnest positions to watch each season is the wide receivers. It’s hard to tell who may shine. This is the time when players create a name for themselves in the locker room. The Steelers have had luck finding wide receivers and making them shine. Antonio Brown (6th round – 195th overall pick) being just one of them back in 2010.
To recap the 2013 season for the receivers, Brown was the star. With 110 receptions, Brown recorded 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns – a performance that resulted in a Pro Bowl appearance for Brown. Markus Wheaton was sidelined most of the season after getting hand surgery early in the season. Wheaon finished his rookie season with just six catches for 64 yards. Derek Moye made the team after having a productive 2013 preseason. Moye rarely found himself on the field in 2013 and ended with two catches, for 20 yards and a touchdown. Justin Brown was on the team’s practice squad for his entire rookie season.
The notable additions the Steelers added during the offseason were: Lance Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and rookies Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant.
State of the Wide Receiver position: In 2013, Brown proved he can be a true number one receiver in the National Football League. The Steelers’ passing attack might be more dangerous than the one we seen in the second half of the season. With the addition of Lance Moore, he will seemingly take over Jerricho Cotchery’s spot on the field and has all the potential to record more catches than Cotchery.
Markus Wheaton will see a major role increase in 2014 as the Steelers hope that he can become what they had hoped for when they drafted him the season before. Wheaton will be seeking the role Emmanuel Sanders held last season.
The Steelers added another two faces in the draft with hopes that both can contribute to the offense in the future. Dri Archer was the fastest man in the 2014 draft (4.26 – 40 yard dash) and is listed as a running back as well as a wide receiver. Archer can also return kicks on special teams. Bryant is a big-built receiver from Clemson who is a project for coach Richard Mann.
A look at the Wide Receivers…
Antonio Brown: With four seasons under his belt, Brown is one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL. Now high on defense’s radars, it may be a challenge for Brown to match his 2013 performance, but there is no harder worker at the position than Brown and if anyone can do it, it is No. 84.
Markus Wheaton: The Steelers will push Wheaton extremely hard this camp and this may be his one chance to show what he can bring in return. With one season under his belt, Wheaton must bring his A game to Latrobe.
Lance Moore: After eight seasons, Moore is a seasoned veteran who can add some leadership to a young group of receivers. Moore helped the Saints win the Super Bowl back in 2010. Moore made a big-time two point conversion catch to give the Saints a seven point lead. Moore has a total of 346 catches for 38 touchdowns (12.4 yards a catch).
Derek Moye: After making the roster in 2013, Moye played in just seven games throughout the season. Moye will have a battle to make the team.
Dri Archer: During his time at Kent State, Archer started 21 games. Archer recorded a total of 99 catches for 1,194 yards (12.06 ypc) and 12 touchdowns. When given the ball in open space, Archer is dangerous. Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley is known for wanting offensive weapons on his offense – much like Dexter McCluster when he was the head coach for the Chiefs.
Martavis Bryant: At 6’4” and 211 pounds, Bryant is a big bodied receiver who uses his body to his advantage. Bryant recorded 61 catches for 1,354 yards (22.20 ypc) and 13 touchdowns in his college football career. Bryant stands as a project right now.
Justin Brown: There is a lot of talk surrounding Brown. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has commented on his improvement along with some other players in the locker room. Brown hopes to make a roster spot this season after falling short and landing on the practice squad in his rookie season.
Danny Coale: First drafted by the Cowboys in 2012 in the fifth round, Coale has bounced around the league. Coale has no game experience and is a long shot to make the 53-man roster.
C.J. Goodwin: A small school [California University (PA)], undrafted free agent who is another long shot to make the team. At 6’3” and 190 pounds, Goodwin is one of the bigger receivers on the roster.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: Since being drafted in the first round in 2009 by the Raiders, Heyward-Bey has struggled to be productive to say the least. Although he has speed, he has not developed into a premiere wide receiver. His chances for making the team look slim.
Kashif Moore: In 2013, Moore spent the season on the practice squad and also was on the roster during last year’s preseason. From Connecticut, Moore measures in at just 5’9” and 180 pounds.
Lanear Sampson: In his second season from Baylor, Sampson has yet to make an NFL roster with hope he can overcome odds come this training camp and preseason. Sampson was undrafted in 2013 and has spent time with the Colts and Cowboys prior to his time with the Steelers.
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