Hall of Famer
Steelers receivers believe they’re still potent, even without Wallace
PITTSBURGH — Antonio Brown wasn’t making a fashion statement, just a personal one.
While the rest of his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates worked out in black shorts during organized team activities on Tuesday, the fourth-year wide receiver darted through traffic in yellow football pants even though the first live practice won’t come for another two months.
“I just want to be ready,” Brown said.
Considering what lay ahead for the now unquestioned leader of a new-look receiving corps, a head start seems like a pretty good idea.
The departure of Pro Bowler Mike Wallace to Miami during the offseason leaves Brown and Emmanuel Sanders as the longest tenured wideouts in Pittsburgh, heady territory for players considered complimentary parts when the Steelers grabbed them three rounds apart in the 2010 Draft.
Now they are the present — and at least in Brown’s case — the future. It’s a notion Brown has tried to downplay, but one that has become reality after he signed a six-year extension last summer while Wallace sat at home during a lengthy holdout, the beginning of a season-long goodbye that ended with Wallace signing a $60-million free agent deal with the Dolphins.
Brown understands “guys come and go all the time” and doesn’t feel any more pressure than usual to produce now that he’s the one with the most zeroes in his contract.
“I’m just going to do whatever they ask me,” he said. “I think I’m capable of making plays. I’ve always felt that way no matter who else is playing.”
Maybe, but with Wallace gone, defenses are going to turn their attention to Brown. He lacks Wallace’s gamebreaking speed, but has remarkably soft hands and made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner in 2011 because of his ability to create havoc in the open field.
It’s a skill set that is tailor made for offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s intricate passing scheme. Brown was in the midst of a career season last fall before an ankle injury forced him to miss a significant three-week stretch in November. He returned to catch touchdown passes in each of Pittsburgh’s final four games and finished with 66 receptions for 787 yards and five scores.
Pro-rate those numbers over a full 16-game schedule and they’re Pro Bowl-caliber, though that did little to quell the disappointment of an 8-8 season.
“We know what the standard is and we didn’t meet it,” Brown said. “That goes for all of us.”
Though Brown considers himself just another guy in the receivers’ room, his teammates know he faces great expectations. Their job is to help him meet them.
“Antonio Brown, I think, is going to one of the most feared receivers in the league this year,” veteran Plaxico Burress said. “And I’m going to do everything in my power to help him get to the level where he can be an elite receiver.”
That includes making defenses pay for focusing too much on Brown. Burress returned to Pittsburgh last November hoping to give an injury-riddled passing game a boost. Instead, he struggled to get up to speed and caught only three passes.
Still, the Steelers saw enough in the 35-year-old to bring him back. Burress hopes a full offseason program will help him regain some of the rapport he enjoyed with Roethlisberger back in 2004 before he bolted for the New York Giants.
Burress stressed developing chemistry with Roethlisberger will “take time” while crediting the quarterback for being accessible.
“Ben is very easy to work with, and you can’t say that about every quarterback in this league,” Burress said. “So, if we get out on the field and go through a couple series, then we can get back to the sideline to talk about them and make adjustments.
“That’s a very important thing to do.”
Adjustments will be necessary as the Steelers try to figure out how to fit in rookies Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown along with Sanders, Burress and Jerricho Cotchery. Wheaton, a third-round pick, may be the best candidate to become the deep threat left by Wallace’s departure. Wheaton ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds before the draft, a time he considered slow.
The Steelers will have to wait to get look at Wheaton with the veterans. He won’t be able to participate in full workouts until his class at Oregon State graduates. That could give Justin Brown a chance to make an impression.
Either way, Pittsburgh insists it will be fine without Wallace. Roethlisberger will still do his thing, and the receivers expect plenty of chances to do theirs.
“We’ll miss (Wallace) on and off the field. But at the same time, we have some good guys who can run and make up for losing a really good receiver,” Cotchery said. “A.B. is the No. 1 guy now, and Emmanuel is No. 2. Everybody else fits in after that.”
Brown, Sanders, Plax/Cotch/Wheaton/Brown > Hines, ARE, Ceddy and the latter were good enough to get us a ring.
Which just goes to show, it is not about the diva WRs. Keep #7 healthy and get solid line play, and we will be a very strong team. For an example, take a look at the names of the receivers who won rings with NE. Hardly a player there who would have ever been considered one of the best of his time.
Originally Posted by flippy
We had superior play calling, a good OL, a defense who forced TO's and a RB who could close out a 4th Qtr when the D KNEW where we were running. We didn't need our WR's to be all that and then some... but with the rule changes I think this group needs to show they can do it when it matters.
Originally Posted by flippy
Concerned about the Steelers passing game this season? You shouldn't be
By Nicholas_Blazevich on May 30
The return of Emmanuel Sanders wasn't a stroke of good luck, it was simply confirmation the Steelers' passing attack will be loaded in 2013.
Admit it. As a Steelers fan you got nervous about next season when you realized we lost one of the fastest threats at wide receiver in the league. There was also talk about Emmanuel Sanders departing to the Patriots, and that is when I will admit that I was questioning the Steelers offensive production next season.
God Himself must have opened the heavens to tell Sanders to stay in Pittsburgh, and that is a big reason why I feel the passing game in Pittsburgh will be just as effective, if not more so, than last year.
Looking at our depth chart, I feel cool, calm and collected. Why? Emmanuel Sanders is going to be our No. 1 receiver this year and he is going to definitely have his best offensive season yet. Antonio Brown on the other hand will continue to produce, but after last seasons performance and after receiving his awaited contract, he seemed to cool off.
Maybe Brown will prove me wrong and go back to his old ways.
Plaxico Burress hopefully has been working on his game this off season and in my opinion, Jerricho Cotchery will be a 500 yard, 5 touchdown player next season.
I honestly am not a huge Todd Haley fan but I see potential for him to create something special with Ben Roethlisberger. With the loss of Mike Wallace from our squad, Haley is going to target Heath Miller and David Paulson much more than usual. That will make Ben smile considering his favorite target is Heath. Keep an eye out for that.
How about the running backs? We may not have an Arian Foster or a Ray Rice to dump the ball to and hope for the best but we did draft somebody special. Le'Veon Bell is going to be that player that Roethlisberger can flip the ball to in times of trouble.
Overall, there will not be problems with the passing game this season for the black and gold. Relax all of you worried fans, Emmanuel Sanders is going to be the hero.
I've been on record saying AB reminds me of Steve Smith and Sanders reminds me of Marvin Harrison. I think we're gonna be alright. And I still think Plax's size still forces a double team and can take some pressure off the youngins. If Haley uses him is another question?
Originally Posted by feltdizz
Remember Elway's, Marino's, Favre's, Rodgers', Brees', etc WRs? (Well I do but that's beside the point) WRs are a dime a dozen and a great QB can make a WR. But if I can have Megatron, I'd take him
Originally Posted by steeler_fan_in_t.o.
So do I! Only thing bothering me is that the new WR Wheaton has to miss these OTA's since his school is still going on. That did not help DeCastro or Adams.
I have read where these OTA's are very useful for at least that phase of the game. Why not! Even in league action hardly any contact is allowed anyway. Yeah, it would have been nice to see how he and Ben get it together.
Oh, one other thing. The guy in hawaiiansteels post said "God Himself must have opened the heavens to tell Sanders to stay in Pittsburgh, and that is a big reason why I feel the passing game in Pittsburgh will be just as effective, if not more so, than last year."
Uh! I'm sure TS will take any help from any source. But, on this one I think all TS had to do was choose to match NE's offer. Which they did. I think that's how that RFA thing works.
Anyhow, I really don't think divine intervention was necessary on this one. Maybe TS will use that help in another situation.
This statement makes me sad. Football is still so far off.
Originally Posted by SteelCrazy
Last edited by Shoe; 06-01-2013 at 01:04 PM.
Exactly. Tell me, who are the best receivers in the league? Fitz, Megatron, Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Marshall, VJax, Thomas.......count the rings.
Originally Posted by flippy
Who are the best QBs in the league? Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Ben, Manning x 2.......count the rings
Notice the difference?