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SteelCrazy
05-12-2010, 06:05 PM
For Emmanuel Sanders, his first foray into the world of professional football was a little like going back to school.


Sanders, who holds virtually every SMU receiving record, was drafted in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last week, he made his first trip to the Iron City to take part in his first mini-camp with his new team.


"It was fun," Sanders said of the experience. "We had two practices a day Friday and Saturday, and one Sunday.


"They threw lot at us, but I felt like I did OK."


Sanders and his teammates arrived at the Steelers' facility Thursday. He and the other receivers met with Pittsburgh wide receivers coach Scotty Montgomery, who began drawing up plays.


"We already had a notebook with the plays, and he gets up and starts drawing up plays -- he did about 60," Sanders said. "Then he looked at us and said, `go study.' We (Sanders and fellow rookie wideout Antonio Brown) went to study -- I stayed up until about 3 a.m. I thought I really knew the plays.


"The next day, I kind of walked into practice on my high horse. I ran the first few routes right, but then I messed one up, and they really let me know it."


It's hard enough for a young player to try to take the place of a top performer. But Sanders, one of the best receivers in SMU history, faces the daunting task of replacing a star from recent Steelers teams, and carrying on the legacy of one of the greatest players in the history of one of the NFL's most celebrated franchises.


Shortly before the draft, the Steelers traded Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets. If that wasn't pressure enough, team officials dusted off jersey No. 88 -- made famous in Pittsburgh by Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann -- and presented it to Sanders.


"At first, I wanted to wear No. 18," Sanders said. "You know -- I wore 17 at SMU, and it was good to me, but it was taken (by 2009 rookie receiver Mike Wallace). So I figured I would go up by one. But the offensive coordinator said he didn't want any more receivers wearing jerseys in the teens.


"But when I walked on the field wearing 88, some of the veterans stopped ... `Ooooh, you've got some big shoes to fill. That's Lynn Swann's jersey.'"


Holmes' departure from Pittsburgh doesn't mean Sanders is walking in to an offense that is devoid of talent at the receiver positions. The leader of the bunch is veteran Hines Ward, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who is the Steelers' all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Wallace was in 2009 what Sanders hopes to be in 2010 -- a relatively unknown (at least on a national level) receiver who burst through as a major contributor in his rookie season. Pittsburgh also signed veteran free agents Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle in the offseason.


"I can learn a lot from those guys," Sanders said. "Hines Ward is the best blocking receiver in the league, maybe ever, and he knows how to get open, he knows how to set guys up. Randle El isn't as fast as he used to be, but he's so smart ... he can get open, too."


Sanders showed off his hands, fielding punts from Daniel Sepulveda ("he was booming them," Sanders said), and passes from quarterbacks Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich.


"We started to develop a little chemistry right away," Sanders said of Dixon, the Steelers' presumed starting quarterback until Ben Roethlisberger returns from his NFL-mandated suspension. "He said he was starting to trust me a little, and I made two diving catches. Hopefully that will help build his confidence in me."


Some rookies say they have a moment of realization when they first try on an NFL jersey, or when they hear their name called in the NFL Draft. For Sanders, that moment came in the locker room.


"It hit me when I looked around, and there's (safety) Troy Polamalu, there's Hines Ward," he said. "That's when I first thought, `I'm in the big leagues.'"


But just because he now wears an NFL jersey doesn't mean Sanders is used to what's written on it.


"Coach Montgomery calls everyone by their numbers, or at least the rookies," Sanders said. "He knows our names, but we've got to earn the right to have him call us by name. So he calls me `88.' One time he was talking to Mike Wallace and he yelled out `hey 17!', and I turned around, because that's the number I wore at SMU. He started to get after me then. `Come on, 88, you don't even know your number?'"


A lot of rookies will see veteran players they have watched for years and become a shadow to those veterans, following them around, watching how they practice, eat, lift weights, watch film, trying to soak up everything the veteran can share. Sanders said that while he has no intention of pestering veterans like Ward and Randle El, he certainly plans to learn whatever he can from them.


"I'm definitely planning to take in what they have to say," Sanders said. "If they see anything I can work on, of course I'm going to listen. Those haven't been in the league this long by accident.


"Pittsburgh has really hard-core fans. If you put the work in, they're going to support you, no matter what. I like that, because I'm going to put the work in. I'm going to do my part. I want to potentially start, but even if I don't, I want to play a key role on a great team."

http://smumustangs.cstv.com/sports/m-fo ... 10aaa.html (http://smumustangs.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/051110aaa.html)

hawaiiansteel
05-12-2010, 08:21 PM
"At first, I wanted to wear No. 18," Sanders said. "You know -- I wore 17 at SMU, and it was good to me, but it was taken (by 2009 rookie receiver Mike Wallace). So I figured I would go up by one. But the offensive coordinator said he didn't want any more receivers wearing jerseys in the teens."




so Bruce Arians controls what #s the WRs wear? :wft

Chucktownsteeler
05-12-2010, 09:22 PM
That must confuse the hell out of BA.

I can here it now: Is he a QB or WR?

Fire BA now.

Chucktown

:tt2

Steel Life
05-12-2010, 09:42 PM
So BA doesn't want any more numbers in the teens for whatever reason, but he's okay with giving out a HOFer's number? :wft

fordfixer
05-12-2010, 09:46 PM
So BA doesn't want any more numbers in the teens for whatever reason, but he's okay with giving out a HOFer's number? :wft
He just want's Ben to start thinking about higher numbers :lol:

ANPSTEEL
05-12-2010, 11:11 PM
"At first, I wanted to wear No. 18," Sanders said. "You know -- I wore 17 at SMU, and it was good to me, but it was taken (by 2009 rookie receiver Mike Wallace). So I figured I would go up by one. But the offensive coordinator said he didn't want any more receivers wearing jerseys in the teens."




so Bruce Arians controls what #s the WRs wear? :wft

I Think it was more likely one of the new owners said:

if you guys are gonna give out my jersey, you better get swanny out there too!

flippy
05-13-2010, 11:47 AM
I've heard him compared to Steve Smith and now he gets Lynn Swann's jersey. There are actually some similarities between those 2 WRs. Hope Sanders is just like both of them.

frankthetank1
05-13-2010, 12:44 PM
im glad he switched his number to something in the 80's. i hate wr's with numbers in the teens. damn you keyshawn!!!

Oviedo
05-13-2010, 04:06 PM
"88" has much more mojo associated with it than "18." If Sanders can come close to being the punt returner Swann was that itself will be great.

hawaiiansteel
05-14-2010, 02:58 AM
"88" has much more mojo associated with it than "18." If Sanders can come close to being the punt returner Swann was that itself will be great.



here are the players that have worn #88 since Lynn Swann:



Craig Dunaway (1983)
John Rodgers (1984)
Jessie Britt (1986)
Joey Clinkscales (1987-88)
Jason Johnson (1989)
Chris Calloway (1990-91)
Mark Diddio (1992)
Andre Hastings (1993-96)
Courney Hawkins (1997-2000)
Terance Mathis (2002)
Matt Kranchick (2005)

Captain Lemming
05-15-2010, 10:28 AM
"88" has much more mojo associated with it than "18." If Sanders can come close to being the punt returner Swann was that itself will be great.



here are the players that have worn #88 since Lynn Swann:



Craig Dunaway (1983)
John Rodgers (1984)
Jessie Britt (1986)
Joey Clinkscales (1987-88)
Jason Johnson (1989)
Chris Calloway (1990-91)
Mark Diddio (1992)
Andre Hastings (1993-96)
Courney Hawkins (1997-2000)
Terance Mathis (2002)
Matt Kranchick (2005)
Smith, Swann, now you dump this huge list on the kid?
Just keep piling on the pressure,will you!! :wink: