Yes, yes, yes... I know... This subject has been beaten fairly thouroughly. BUT the news is slow, and I saw this article... Personally, I like Baker. If he has mastered the routes and put on a few pounds, the speed issue isn't as great as the injury issue with Reid. I will admit it, I have given up on Reid already, and don't wish to look back. Besides, I always thought Baker had the potential to be a difference maker on this squad...
Reid, Baker Battling for One Spot
Posted Jun 25th 2008 11:06PM by JJ Cooper
Filed under: Steelers, AFC North, Pittsburgh
With Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes set as the Steelers starters and Nate Washington and Limas Sweed set as the team's No. 3 and No. 4 receivers, one of the toughest battles during training camp will be for the fifth and likely final wide receiver spot.
A lot of times jobs are said to be wide open, but in reality, there's a clear favorite who has to lose the job. In this case, it's hard to say who's the favorite. The case for Reid is that he's (supposed to be) a quality returner. And his speed and shiftiness makes him potentially useful as a slot receiver who can work underneath and turn little screens into decent gains.
On the downside, Reid has looked overwhelmed by the pro game. A great college punt returner, he's struggled with injuries and fumbles as a pro.
Baker has the size (6-foot-3, 206 pounds) to be a red zone target, and he has a history of getting better as he gets acclimated to a new level of competition. He made significant improvement during his time at Florida, peaking as a senior.
But on the other hand, Baker has less than blazing speed, which leads to concerns about how well he'll get open. And he was cut last year, so Baker clearly has something to prove.
Apparently both of them are playing pretty well this offseason, at least according to Ben Roethlisberger.
"Through the OTA (practices), and it is without pads, I've been really impressed with Willie Reid and Dallas Baker," Roethlisberger said recently, "two guys that really stepped up and opened a lot of eyes."
What determines who makes the team may have little to do with who catches more balls in the preseason. If the Steelers feel comfortable using Holmes as Mewelde Moore's backup at punt returner, then Reid's chances to make the team slip. But if injury fears keep Holmes from returning punts, Reid's chances to make the team jump, largely because there aren't many other decent options at punt returner.
But if he's not returning punts, Reid will have to prove that a guy who was mainly a return specialist in college is capable of being just a receiver. That may be a tall order, especially since he's competing against a guy who is a more natural receiver.