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Oviedo
07-18-2008, 07:56 AM
It would be nice if this guy could become the #4 this season: Hine, Santonio, Sweed and Rucker. Imagine him in the red zone with Sweed, Miller and Spaeth--Land of the Giants.



Micah Rucker
Posted Jul 16, 2008


Ben Roethlisberger made headlines in January when he expressed an interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers acquiring a taller wide receiver.

And when the Steelers selected 6-4 Limas Sweed in the second round of the draft, many felt the team – and Roethlisberger - had their man.

But Sweed isn’t even the tallest rookie wide receiver on the team’s roster heading into training camp. That honor belongs to Micah Rucker, a towering 6-6, 221-pound undrafted rookie.

Rucker, an Eastern Illinois product, used that impressive size to help him catch 108 passes for 1,819 yards and 21 touchdowns. That’s not bad for two seasons of work.

Rucker initially attended the University of Minnesota when he left Estero High School in Estero, Florida. But after red-shirting as a freshman and playing sparingly in the next two seasons – he had four catches for 76 yards in 12 games as a red-shirt sophomore – Rucker transferred to Eastern Illinois, an NCAA Division I-AA school.

“Going from Minnesota to Eastern Illinois was a big change,” said Rucker. “I went from a Big Ten school to a D-IAA school, but it was the right situation for me. I had a fun time there, met a lot of good people and learned a lot. But I think the switch over really put me in the position I am today.”

But couldn’t Rucker had gotten a shot in the NFL easier at a Big Ten school?

“It was really a run-oriented offense,” he said with a smile. “As you know, we had a couple of good running backs there. It was just an opportunity to go somewhere else and make plays.”

He did plenty of that, despite some personal tragedy.

Rucker’s girlfriend, Rebecca Fissehastion Yacob, was killed in an accident with a drunken driver Jan. 28, 2007. The two met while Rucker was at Minnesota and stayed together for more than two years despite the transfer.

“We were best friends,” Rucker told Dennews.com. “She was a very beautiful girl.”

So Rucker understands a little better than many people about why people have to make the most of their opportunities. And that’s what he plans on doing with the Steelers even though he was disappointed he wasn’t drafted.

“I ran a 4.47,” Rucker said. “My pro day went really well. I did 20 bench presses and had a 39-inch vertical leap. I thought I was going to get drafted after my pro day, but, as you can see, anything is possible.

“But after a while, I went into the whole situation looking at it like I wasn’t going to get drafted, just to look at the worst situation. My agent told me that some teams were liking me, but I may not get drafted. But as the later rounds came and I was hoping. At the same time, I’ve gotten an opportunity and that’s all I wanted. Now, I’ve got to do all I can to take advantage of it.”

That was something he did quite well in college, even against some top competition, including cornerback Dominque Rodger-Cromartie, a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals.

“Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a pretty good player and I had a lot of fun playing against him,” said Rucker, who caught three passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee State and Rodgers-Cromartie last season. “I thought I did OK. They kind of shadowed their defense toward me a little bit. He only covered me one-on-one a few times.”

And what did Rucker think of Rodgers-Cromartie?

“Going against him at Eastern, he was good, but I didn’t think he was first round,” Rucker said. “It was actually later that spring, everybody was talking about him being a top-10 pick. I said, ‘What?’ ”

But it just shows that the NFL doesn’t care where you come from if you can play the game.

“There’s guys here who were undrafted rookie free agents who are Pro Bowlers,” said Rucker of the Steelers. “As long as you can come in and learn, I think you give yourself a chance. Everybody says just not to make the same mistake twice. That’s kind of a hard thing not to do, there’s really a lot being th

RuthlessBurgher
07-18-2008, 10:14 AM
I think Rucker will follow the Dallas Baker route, spending his rookie season on the practice squad, using that year learning and adjusting to the pro game, then challenging for a roster spot in year two.

Oviedo
07-18-2008, 10:46 AM
I think Rucker will follow the Dallas Baker route, spending his rookie season on the practice squad, using that year learning and adjusting to the pro game, then challenging for a roster spot in year two.

I hope either Reid, Baker or Rucker can step up and surprise for our #4. Steeler receivers do seem to be getting bigger though:


Ward: 6'
Holmes: 5' 11"
Sweed: 6' 4"
Baker: 6' 3"
Reid: 5' 10"
Washington: 6' 1"
Rucker: 6' 6"
Trannon 6' 6"
Marion: 5' 10"
Bloom: 5' 9"

There are some big targets out there particularly when to add the TEs Miller (6' 5"), Spaeth (6' 7"), Boyd (6' 8") and Dekker (6' 5"). We could put 5 receivers/TEs out there all over 6'4". What is the average DB in the league---5'11"?

RuthlessBurgher
07-18-2008, 11:08 AM
I know you are one of the lead dogs on the Nate Hate Bandwagon, but the fact is that Nate will likely start as the #3 WR with Sweed #4 WR. Perhaps Sweed will be able to overtake Nate at some point during the season for #3 (most of us would like to see that happen), but at no point will Nate be anything worse than #4 unless he gets injured. Baker/Reid/Rucker and the others will be battling for the #5 spot, so they better start tuning up on their special teams skill as well if they want to make the final roster.

Oviedo
07-18-2008, 11:15 AM
I know you are one of the lead dogs on the Nate Hate Bandwagon, but the fact is that Nate will likely start as the #3 WR with Sweed #4 WR. Perhaps Sweed will be able to overtake Nate at some point during the season for #3 (most of us would like to see that happen), but at no point will Nate be anything worse than #4 unless he gets injured. Baker/Reid/Rucker and the others will be battling for the #5 spot, so they better start tuning up on their special teams skill as well if they want to make the final roster.

No hate, I just have an issue with a WR who will get limited touches and can't contribute to ST. WRs should be able to be key guys on ST. Just my humble opinion.

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
07-18-2008, 11:35 AM
There is allot of young talent fighting for the 5th and possibly 6th WR spot. Good problem to have. I have heard good things about Baker, Rucker, and Marion out of the bunch. Not good news for Reid! The pads go on soon so we will get a better feel for things. I get the feeling that a 6th spot is open if one of the WRs show some promise as a returner. That includes Reid, but some new faces could surprise.

BIG FAN
07-18-2008, 01:49 PM
There is allot of young talent fighting for the 5th and possibly 6th WR spot. Good problem to have. I have heard good things about Baker, Rucker, and Marion out of the bunch. Not good news for Reid! The pads go on soon so we will get a better feel for things. I get the feeling that a 6th spot is open if one of the WRs show some promise as a returner. That includes Reid, but some new faces could surprise.

This makes the next ten days to camp all that much harder to wait!
I think the competition at WR will be the best we have had in many years. We may come out of this with one of the most formidable WR corps in the league. Stockpiling all these big wideouts is indeed a good problem to have, time to let it fly. This make of break for Reid I figure.

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
07-18-2008, 02:27 PM
[quote="JUST-PLAIN-NASTY":25bc25ch]There is allot of young talent fighting for the 5th and possibly 6th WR spot. Good problem to have. I have heard good things about Baker, Rucker, and Marion out of the bunch. Not good news for Reid! The pads go on soon so we will get a better feel for things. I get the feeling that a 6th spot is open if one of the WRs show some promise as a returner. That includes Reid, but some new faces could surprise.

This makes the next ten days to camp all that much harder to wait!
I think the competition at WR will be the best we have had in many years. We may come out of this with one of the most formidable WR corps in the league. Stockpiling all these big wideouts is indeed a good problem to have, time to let it fly. This make of break for Reid I figure.[/quote:25bc25ch]

I think you are dead on in regards to Reid. I think marginal improvement over last year even gets Reid cut. If one of the young WRs even equal Reid's play through the pre-season I think he is gone. 3 years in already...If a rookie or sophmore is looking AS good at WR as Reid by pre-season end...I don't think he makes the roster. His return ability, if you want to call it that, gave him an edge on the rest of the new comers years past. I feel Baker's progression as a WR and the new guys will push him off the roster. I'm still pulling for him...But I think there will be too many flashes of talent from the "new" guys to make room for Reid on the 53!

BIG FAN
07-18-2008, 02:39 PM
I nearly have some kind of anxiety attack when I know Reid is about to field a kick.
I would love for him to come out as some kind of clutch receiver in camp, but I dont think we see it happen. If you have a high round pick that cant crack a starting line up, or play superior special teams by his third season, what do you got?
So far not much.
I'm not a Reid hater, but I am disappointed.

Steel Life
07-18-2008, 07:53 PM
I'm hoping for 6 WR's to make the squad this season as we've collected some intriguing talent. But I think age & speed will play more into the decision than most think right now. Here's my first crack at the corps...

1. Ward (32) - The warrior...I hope I never see him different colors.
2. Santonio (24) - This year he gets his Pro Bowl.
3. Nate (24) - Basically an audition year as Sweed's the future, but if Hines get hurt...
4. Sweed (23) - He could...no, he should have Chris Henry-like numbers & impact.
5. Reid (25) - Thing is, Reid offers something no other Steeler WR does - lightning quickness - but can he hold onto the ball.
6. Rucker (22) - This one was tough until I realized that he can play ST's.

Baker (25): Practice Squad (I can see him going to a different team if he doesn't make it)
Trannon (24): Practice Squad (I like his physicality, somewhat like Boldin)
Bloom (26): Cut (He's running out of time & I think Reid steps up & puts Bloom down)
Walker (24): Cut (Non-factor)

BigLebowski
07-18-2008, 09:40 PM
... If you have a high round pick that cant crack a starting line up, or play superior special teams by his third season, what do you got?
...

Ironically, most WRs hit their stride on the offensive side of the ball by year 3, and we are just hoping Reid can return kicks. :roll: :HeadBanger

This is his last chance in Steelertown, so if he is a professional he will grasp his chance and run with it, literally. If not he is not Steeler material anyways.

PREDICTION: Reid does not make this team out of training camp, barring injury of course.

SteelHoss
07-18-2008, 11:13 PM
I don't know at this point who has been a bigger disappointment to me...Reid or Washington. I do feel that Reid will be gone before camp breaks. I also believe that Washington has peaked. I don't see him getting any better. From Ben and others we have heard that Baker has improved dramatically. We have also heard that Rucker and little Kevin Marion caught everything or just about everything thrown their way in the OTAs. For what its worth my gut tells me Rucker is going to open some eyes in a big way when the pads go on. It has been many years since I've been this excited about a Steeler's training camp. I think I would have to go back to the '70s to do that. Get ready for a wild ride. :tt1 :tt1 :tt1 :tt1

RuthlessBurgher
07-19-2008, 01:39 AM
I don't know at this point who has been a bigger disappointment to me...Reid or Washington. I do feel that Reid will be gone before camp breaks. I also believe that Washington has peaked. I don't see him getting any better. From Ben and others we have heard that Baker has improved dramatically. We have also heard that Rucker and little Kevin Marion caught everything or just about everything thrown their way in the OTAs. For what its worth my gut tells me Rucker is going to open some eyes in a big way when the pads go on. It has been many years since I've been this excited about a Steeler's training camp. I think I would have to go back to the '70s to do that. Get ready for a wild ride. :tt1 :tt1 :tt1 :tt1

You seriously don't know who is a bigger disappointment between Nate and Reid? One guy was an undrafted free agent WR from Tiffin who caught 64 passes for 1,074 yards (16.8 yard per catch average) and 9 touchdowns over the past two seasons, while the other was a 3rd round pick from Florida State who caught 4 passes for 54 yards (13.5 yard per catch average) and 0 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Hmmm...that's a tough one.

SteelHoss
07-19-2008, 09:28 AM
I don't know at this point who has been a bigger disappointment to me...Reid or Washington. I do feel that Reid will be gone before camp breaks. I also believe that Washington has peaked. I don't see him getting any better. From Ben and others we have heard that Baker has improved dramatically. We have also heard that Rucker and little Kevin Marion caught everything or just about everything thrown their way in the OTAs. For what its worth my gut tells me Rucker is going to open some eyes in a big way when the pads go on. It has been many years since I've been this excited about a Steeler's training camp. I think I would have to go back to the '70s to do that. Get ready for a wild ride. :tt1 :tt1 :tt1 :tt1

You seriously don't know who is a bigger disappointment between Nate and Reid? One guy was an undrafted free agent WR from Tiffin who caught 64 passes for 1,074 yards (16.8 yard per catch average) and 9 touchdowns over the past two seasons, while the other was a 3rd round pick from Florida State who caught 4 passes for 54 yards (13.5 yard per catch average) and 0 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Hmmm...that's a tough one.

I was a big fan of Nate's. I always like rooting for the underdog. IMO he's been a long shot. Your stats while correct are a little bit misleading. He actually had a drop off last year.

'06 35 rec 624 yds 17.8 avg 39yg lg 49 yac 3.5 28 1st 4 tds
'07 29 rec 450 yds 15.5 avg 28.1yg 40 lg 2.8 yac 21 1st 5tds

Nate is entering his 4th year. After a fall off season in '07 he will almost make 1.5 M this season which IMO is overpay. For all the time and money spent on Nate instead of improving in '07 he went the other way. Big dissapointment IMO. I've seen Ben's face light up when he talks about Dallas Baker.

Willie Reid is entering his 3rd season, but has been injured much of his career. He has shown flashes in practice, but virtually nothing on game day. He's a bust IMO.

Bring on the new guys! We've seen what Nate and Reid can do. I for one am not impressed.

BigLebowski
07-20-2008, 08:52 AM
I don't know at this point who has been a bigger disappointment to me...Reid or Washington. I do feel that Reid will be gone before camp breaks. I also believe that Washington has peaked. I don't see him getting any better. From Ben and others we have heard that Baker has improved dramatically. We have also heard that Rucker and little Kevin Marion caught everything or just about everything thrown their way in the OTAs. For what its worth my gut tells me Rucker is going to open some eyes in a big way when the pads go on. It has been many years since I've been this excited about a Steeler's training camp. I think I would have to go back to the '70s to do that. Get ready for a wild ride. :tt1 :tt1 :tt1 :tt1

You seriously don't know who is a bigger disappointment between Nate and Reid? One guy was an undrafted free agent WR from Tiffin who caught 64 passes for 1,074 yards (16.8 yard per catch average) and 9 touchdowns over the past two seasons, while the other was a 3rd round pick from Florida State who caught 4 passes for 54 yards (13.5 yard per catch average) and 0 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Hmmm...that's a tough one.

It's funny Ruthless, I was thinking the same thing. While Reid is no doubt a disappointment, I look at Nate as a pleasant surprise.