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Slapstick
09-01-2011, 03:02 PM
Steelers in good hands of top 3 receivers

NFL Preseason: Steelers vs. Panthers

Thursday, September 01, 2011

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


In his 14th season with the team that drafted him in the third round in 1998, Hines Ward knows he is not going to play many more seasons. But, when he leaves, the club's all-time leading receiver knows his position will be in good hands, literally and figuratively.

That's because the Steelers might have the best trio of young receivers in the NFL.

"It's a real sign the future of the wideouts that we have," Ward said. "We didn't go out and draft any guys because we're comfortable with the young guys we have. When I do leave, we'll be in good hands. They're very talented."

And they are very different.

Mike Wallace, who enters his third season, already is one of the league's top deep threats with his sprinter's speed.

Emmanuel Sanders, a No. 3 pick in 2010, might be the best route-runner on the team and reads defenses as well as the coaching staff.

And Antonio Brown has spent the preseason showing off his big-play ability and turning his mistakes into touchdowns.

The Steelers have to go back to 2000 when they had Ward, Plaxico Burress and Troy Edwards to find a more talented trio of young receivers on their roster.

"They can be special," said safety Ryan Clark, who has to cover them in practice. "The good thing about them is they have three different skill sets. Each of them is very talented, but they're all so different. And what makes them a strong trio is that they're not like the trio Green Bay would have.

"Green Bay has kind of the same guy, different numbers. Whereas, with these guys, you're able to line them all over the field in different spots and you have to try to stop them all."

Just like Ward, who needs 46 catches to become only the eighth player in NFL history to have 1,000 career receptions, the Steelers found all three in the third round or later.

Throw in newcomer Jerricho Cotchery, a fourth-round pick of the New York Jets in 2004, and the Steelers have the potential to have maybe the deepest corps of receivers in the league without a No. 1 draft pick among them.

"You don't always have to find players in the first round," said Wallace, a third-round pick. "Look at Hines."

And, sometimes, you find them in the sixth round, such as Brown.

Sanders and Brown did not compile prolific numbers as rookies, combining for 44 catches, 543 yards and 2 touchdowns. But, with Sanders' precise route-running and assimilation of the offense and Brown's penchant for big plays -- especially after his performance last week against the Atlanta Falcons -- the Steelers merely are waiting for each to have breakout seasons.

Couple that with Wallace, who had a team-high 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns and led the AFC with a 21-yard average in 2010, and the Steelers have the nucleus of a talented and diverse receiving trio, none of whom have been in the league longer than three years.

"Those guys are great players," Wallace said. "Coming in, they were much better route-runners than I was. I was really raw. Those guys could really run routes already, especially Sanders. [Brown] was probably more explosive, but they were kind of a mixed-and-match set. The sky is the limit for them."

Sanders missed nearly all training camp at Saint Vincent College and has not played in the preseason because his surgically repaired left foot was slow to heal. But, he returned to full practice this week and is expected to play, barring a setback, in the preseason finale tonight at Carolina.

Asked to evaluate the young receivers, Ward gave the following assessment:

Wallace: "He has that one thing you can't teach -- speed. But I want Mike to become an all-around receiver, not just the speed, the deep guy. You can be an explosive wide receiver by catching curls catching digs, things like that."

Sanders: "He's probably more polished than all of them. He has the understanding of the offense. He could play inside and outside. The slot guy is the quarterback of the wideouts."

Brown: "A.B. has that dog in him, that mentality, I see him playing with that chip on his shoulders. He's always trying to prove to someone he can play. He plays with a little more anger. I really like working with him."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11244/1171290-66-0.stm

hawaiiansteel
09-01-2011, 03:07 PM
I would argue that we have the best 5 WRs of any team in the NFL.

it will be interesting to see how the pecking order unfolds as the season progresses...

insanesteelersfan
09-01-2011, 03:11 PM
I would argue that we have the best 5 WRs of any team in the NFL.

it will be interesting to see how the pecking order unfolds as the season progresses...




I would agree with that. But I think it is one of the top most promising WR cores in the league. No matter what Antonio is doing right now in the pre-season, it still is not the regular season. And we still need to see if Sanders can take that next step up. But if they do, and Wallace has yet another good season, then I will call this core among the best in the league.

hawaiiansteel
09-01-2011, 03:38 PM
I would argue that we have the best 5 WRs of any team in the NFL.



I would agree with that. But I think it is one of the top most promising WR cores in the league.

you make a good point, they need to do it when the lights turn on first.

therefore, I'll add one word to my sentence above:

"I would argue that we potentially have the best 5 WRs of any team in the NFL."

steelblood
09-01-2011, 04:09 PM
This is awesome. The key will be protecting Ben both long enough to get the passes off and from injury. If this line can be above average, this offense can be scary good.

flippy
09-01-2011, 04:12 PM
Interesting that Hines calls Sanders the best.

Sanders is the one Ben gushes over too.

RuthlessBurgher
09-01-2011, 04:19 PM
Aaron Rodgers also has a mighty impressive five-some of wideouts to work with as well. They don't have any first round receivers either, but is interesting that 4 of their top 5 WR's were all drafted earlier than all 5 of our top WR's.

Jordy Nelson 2.36
Greg Jennings 2.52
Randall Cobb 2.64
James Jones 3.78
Emmanuel Sanders 3.82
Mike Wallace 3.84
Hines Ward 3.92
Jerricho Cotchery 4.108
Antonio Brown 6.195
Donald Driver 7.213

flippy
09-01-2011, 04:33 PM
Aaron Rodgers also has a mighty impressive five-some of wideouts to work with as well. They don't have any first round receivers either, but is interesting that 4 of their top 5 WR's were all drafted earlier than all 5 of our top WR's.

Jordy Nelson 2.36
Greg Jennings 2.52
Randall Cobb 2.64
James Jones 3.78
Emmanuel Sanders 3.82
Mike Wallace 3.84
Hines Ward 3.92
Jerricho Cotchery 4.108
Antonio Brown 6.195
Donald Driver 7.213

Donnie Driver's pretty good for a 7th rounder. I would have guessed he was drafted much earlier.

hawaiiansteel
09-01-2011, 04:53 PM
Aaron Rodgers also has a mighty impressive five-some of wideouts to work with as well. They don't have any first round receivers either, but is interesting that 4 of their top 5 WR's were all drafted earlier than all 5 of our top WR's.

Jordy Nelson 2.36
Greg Jennings 2.52
Randall Cobb 2.64
James Jones 3.78
Donald Driver 7.213


very true, having BMac, Willie Gay and Anthony Madison trying to cover them was painful to watch...

SanAntonioSteelerFan
09-01-2011, 05:40 PM
Aaron Rodgers also has a mighty impressive five-some of wideouts to work with as well. They don't have any first round receivers either, but is interesting that 4 of their top 5 WR's were all drafted earlier than all 5 of our top WR's.

Jordy Nelson 2.36
Greg Jennings 2.52
Randall Cobb 2.64
James Jones 3.78
Donald Driver 7.213


very true, having BMac, Willie Gay and Anthony Madison trying to cover them was painful to watch...

I agree 100%, but I also think we lost the SB in large part because of Deebo's back pain. If we had about 0.1 seconds faster rush on about 4 plays, Rogers doesn't make those passes, or if he does they're not pinpoint accuracy like they turned out to be, and our grade B defensive backfield would have looked a whole lot better.

Not to mention - wasn't Troy's calf hurt or something? A healthy Troy makes the rest of the defensive backfield look a whole lot better ...

hawaiiansteel
09-01-2011, 05:47 PM
I agree 100%, but I also think we lost the SB in large part because of Deebo's back pain. If we had about 0.1 seconds faster rush on about 4 plays, Rogers doesn't make those passes, or if he does they're not pinpoint accuracy like they turned out to be, and our grade B defensive backfield would have looked a whole lot better.



so what happens this year if Deebo never fully recovers from his back pain and doesn't get his leg strength back?

will our grade B backfield get exposed more often?

SanAntonioSteelerFan
09-01-2011, 05:59 PM
I agree 100%, but I also think we lost the SB in large part because of Deebo's back pain. If we had about 0.1 seconds faster rush on about 4 plays, Rogers doesn't make those passes, or if he does they're not pinpoint accuracy like they turned out to be, and our grade B defensive backfield would have looked a whole lot better.



so what happens this year if Deebo never fully recovers from his back pain and doesn't get his leg strength back?

will our grade B backfield get exposed more often?

Well, a healthy Troy (if he stays healthy) should help ...

but other than that, I'm kind of worried ...

But maybe Lebeau will have one more magic scheme up his sleeve to compensate!
:tt1 :tt2

NorthCoast
09-01-2011, 07:35 PM
Aaron Rodgers also has a mighty impressive five-some of wideouts to work with as well. They don't have any first round receivers either, but is interesting that 4 of their top 5 WR's were all drafted earlier than all 5 of our top WR's.

Jordy Nelson 2.36
Greg Jennings 2.52
Randall Cobb 2.64
James Jones 3.78
Donald Driver 7.213


very true, having BMac, Willie Gay and Anthony Madison trying to cover them was painful to watch...

I agree 100%, but I also think we lost the SB in large part because of Deebo's back pain. If we had about 0.1 seconds faster rush on about 4 plays, Rogers doesn't make those passes, or if he does they're not pinpoint accuracy like they turned out to be, and our grade B defensive backfield would have looked a whole lot better.

Not to mention - wasn't Troy's calf hurt or something? A healthy Troy makes the rest of the defensive backfield look a whole lot better ...

The counter to that premise is that GB's WRs drop a few balls that could have led to even bigger plays....so I would hesitate to say a speedier rush would have changed the outcome. Rodgers just had his way with our secondary.....but, not every team can take advantage of the Steelers' weakness.