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Thread: Rookie WR Markus Wheaton waiting for his turn to play

  1. #1
    Legend hawaiiansteel's Avatar
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    Rookie WR Markus Wheaton waiting for his turn to play

    Rookie wideout Wheaton waiting for turn to play

    By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Much had been expected of Steelers rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton, especially after safety Ryan Clark said in training camp that he was better than Mike Wallace in every way except speed. That might have been an unfair comparison for someone who had yet to play an NFL game, but Clark’s point was Wheaton, the team’s third-round draft choice out of Oregon State, had the ability to help the offense in a big way this season.

    Wheaton’s rookie season hasn’t gone as planned.

    A fractured finger forced him to miss four games in the middle of the season and the receivers in front of him on the depth chart are playing well, so there hasn’t been a reason to play him more. That has left Wheaton with some paltry statistics through 13 games: six receptions for 64 yards and no touchdowns.

    That makes Wheaton the least productive of the 11 receivers taken in the first three rounds of the 2013 draft. The player taken three spots ahead of him at No. 76 overall is the most productive. Keenan Allen of San Diego leads all rookie receivers with 61 receptions for 905 yards and five touchdowns.

    DeAndre Hopkins, the No. 27 overall selection of Houston in the first round, is the second-most productive with 44 catches for 707 yards and two touchdowns. The third-most productive is Terrance Williams, who was taken by the Dallas Cowboys five spots ahead of Wheaton at No. 74 in the third round. He has 35 receptions for 567 yards and five touchdowns.

    It’s not just receivers taken ahead of him in the top three rounds who have outperformed Wheaton. Several late-round choices and undrafted free agents are having better rookie seasons, too.

    Fourth-round pick Ace Sanders of Jacksonville has 39 catches for 397 yards. Fifth-round pick Kenny Stills of New Orleans has 25 receptions for 495 yards and four touchdowns. Kenbrell Thompkins wasn’t even drafted, but he has 32 catches for 466 yards and four touchdowns for New England.

    “Nowadays, you see these glimpses of rookies, and we rush to judgment and say, ‘This guy is a bust’ or things of that nature,” veteran receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. “Well, [Wheaton] hasn’t played. It’s not his fault. Guys have played well in front of him. That’s the reality of it. He’s been studying hard and practicing hard. He’s ready to play. He’s a smart guy. Whenever he’s given the opportunity, he’ll make plays.”

    Wheaton appeared to be making some progress before getting injured against Minnesota in the fourth game. He started and made the first three receptions of his career against the Vikings, but suffered a fractured pinky finger in that game that required surgery.

    “I was picking it up pretty well at the time,” Wheaton said. “Each game I got a little more playing time. And then, after the injury, I never really got back into it like I was then. All I can do is try to work my way back and keep improving as the weeks go on.”

    Since getting back into the lineup against Buffalo Nov. 10, Wheaton has three receptions, and all three came against Detroit after Emmanuel Sanders left the game early with a foot injury. In the past three games, he has played a total of 11 snaps on offense.

    With Antonio Brown second in the NFL in receptions and Cotchery having a career year, there hasn’t been reason for offensive coordinator Todd Haley to change much with his receiver corps. While he waits his turn, Wheaton has tried to soak in as much knowledge as possible from his teammates.

    “I’m still young,and there’s a lot to learn from these older guys,” Wheaton said. “I try to do that every day. I’ve definitely learned a lot this first year. Even when I was out with the injury, I was still picking up a lot of information, sitting down with the coaches and learning from the older guys.

    “Altogether, to this point, it’s obviously a disappointment where we are as a team. That sucks. Personally, the injuries set me back a bit. The numbers aren’t ideal, but I learned a lot. I think that is what’s most important.”

    With Sanders and Cotchery in the final years of their contracts and their futures with the team uncertain, Wheaton likely will have more opportunities next season. Cotchery is convinced he’ll become a productive player.

    “I know in my rookie year there were plenty of guys who had great rookie seasons, but, at the end of the day, it tailed off,” Cotchery said. “You just have to continue to work. For him, he’s caught in a situation I was in when I was behind Mike [Wallace], Emmanuel and Antonio. We don’t do a lot of four-receiver stuff, so he’s just sitting there waiting. But he’s definitely ready to play.”

    http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/s...#ixzz2nFmHYfyx

  2. #2
    We have not seen much out of him, but I think that he will be ready to go next year with a full off-season of preparation. Considering that he will likely be taking over for Sanders, it is not like he has huge shoes to fill.

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    Tomlin: No Changes

    By Jim Wexell
    SteelCityInsider.net
    Posted Dec 10, 2013



    Even though the 5-8 Pittsburgh Steelers are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoff race, Mike Tomlin won't be making any lineup changes just to suit the younger players.

    Or the fans.

    Markus Wheaton for Emmanuel Sanders?

    No thank you.

    Shamarko Thomas for Ryan Clark?

    Not a chance.

    Mike Adams might stay at left tackle in place of Kelvin Beachum, but only if Beachum's knee injury holds him back.

    One incredulous reporter asked Tomin "Are you saying that you’re not ready to play to get looks for next year? You’re just going with the best guys in the starting lineup?"

    "There’s no question about that," Tomlin said. "I didn’t lead any of the discussion in that direction at all, so that would be very clear, yes."

    In spite of two recent down-to-the-wire losses, Tomlin likes the way his team has responded from its 0-4 start and wants it to finish strong.

    "Let me say this," Tomlin said. "I am continually evaluating young talent in the midst of doing the things we desire to do, which is prepare and win this week. It’s not like it’s a one or the other proposition. The evaluation of young talent is not only within stadiums but it’s also within this building in terms of some of the things they do on the practice field. That’s forever. It’s always ongoing. I really think it’s kind of naïve and not realistic to assume that you either do one or the other. I am always in continual evaluation of the talent. And I also put preparing and winning this week at a premium."

    http://pit.scout.com/2/1355648.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by steeler_fan_in_t.o. View Post
    We have not seen much out of him, but I think that he will be ready to go next year with a full off-season of preparation. Considering that he will likely be taking over for Sanders, it is not like he has huge shoes to fill.
    Didn't he get a late start anyway because of school? It seems to me that the team can let Sanders walk and still have a good core- especially if they get another WR in the draft.

  5. #5
    Administrator steelz09's Avatar
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    Wheaton will be replacing Sanders next year.... What sucks is that we had the chance to get a 3rd for Sanders and we passed it up. Hindsight is 20/20 but that decision really hurts. I said from the beginning that if Sanders walks after this year (which is now likely), not taking the 3rd would be idiotic.

    ------

    Shamarko Thomas at FS is quite possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard. SS, yes. FS, hell no.

    That's like having Ray Rice covering AJ Green, CJ, AJ, Colston, Gronkowski, Graham, etc.

  6. #6
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    Wheaton ready to take the next step

    by Teresa Varley
    Steelers.com

    Wide receiver Markus Wheaton wants to make an impact on the offense in 2014.

    As receiver Markus Wheaton looked back at his rookie year, he said he had fun getting to do what he loves, which is playing football. There was just one problem. He wishes he would have played more, especially on offense.

    Wheaton was hampered by a broken pinky finger on his right hand that required surgery and forced him to miss four games in the first half of the season. Once he got back on the field November 10 against Buffalo, his opportunities were limited as the fourth receiver behind Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. And then another injury, this one to the middle finger on his right hand, slowed him down again.

    “The injury set me back. I felt every time I took a couple of steps forward there was a setback with an injury,” said Wheaton. “That was frustrating. You can’t expect to go through the season without any injuries. That is always something that is going to happen I feel. I just kind of accepted it and dealt with it. There was nothing I could so I tried to get better while dealing with it. Hopefully in 2014 there aren’t as many setbacks so I can continue to progress.”

    Wheaton, the Steelers third round draft pick in 2013, finished the season making contributions on special teams, but with only six receptions for 64 yards. While the numbers were low, there was plenty he took from his rookie season to build on. He grew as a player, learning how to read NFL coverages and how the defenses disguise things better than in college. He gained a better understanding of what the quarterback is thinking in regards to coverage and picked up the offensive concepts.

    “I did learn a lot, which is always a good thing. I feel like I picked up the offense,” said Wheaton. “I feel comfortable out there. I am not thinking as much when I am out there playing. I felt like a couple of games into it I started to get comfortable. When I got hurt I sat out a couple of games, came back and it started over. That was stressful. I just want to be comfortable with the offense and be able to play without over-thinking things.”

    Wheaton definitely had plenty of resources when he needed help getting comfortable, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose locker is next to Wheaton’s.

    “Any time I had questions he is right there,” said Wheaton. “I don’t have to go too far for him. He is always helping me. I am always in his ear when I do have a question. It’s been very helpful.”

    But it was Cotchery, a player he was trying to move ahead of on the depth chart in training camp, who unselfishly guided him through his rookie season.

    “I pretty much followed him around everywhere,” said Wheaton. “Whether it was pre-practice, meetings, post-practice, drills, or watching film. He taught me a lot and helped me with a lot. He taught me how to do a lot of that stuff. I thought I knew how to do it coming in, but he taught me a lot of stuff I need to look for in this league that I didn’t look for in college.

    “He was always there for me. I was right behind him coming in to camp and he still helped me. I bothered him so much and he still helped me.”

    There are some question marks at receiver heading into the offseason. Cotchery, Sanders, and Plaxico Burress, who spent the season on injured reserve, are all free agents. Whatever happens, Wheaton said he wants to be someone that steps into a bigger role for 2014.

    “That is something that personally I would love to do,” said Wheaton. “That is what I came here to do. Even if we had free agents come back, I want to be able to move up in the ranks at the wide receiver position. Next year I am hoping to be more of an offensive guy and contribute on special teams too, just doing as much as I can.”

    http://www.steelers.com/news/article...d-8532f87c22f3

  7. #7
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    My advice to Wheaton would be to follow Antonio around.
    Brown's work ethic seems to be top notch.
    Worked well for AB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pittpete View Post
    My advice to Wheaton would be to follow Antonio around.
    Brown's work ethic seems to be top notch.
    Worked well for AB.
    That's good advice. This kid will be fine. He's got a good head on his shoulders, and talent to boot.

  9. #9
    Hall of Famer DukieBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pittpete View Post
    My advice to Wheaton would be to follow Antonio around.
    Brown's work ethic seems to be top notch.
    Worked well for AB.
    Would be great if MW would train off-season with AB. That might set him up real fine.

  10. #10
    But it was Cotchery, a player he was trying to move ahead of on the depth chart in training camp, who unselfishly guided him through his rookie season.

    I think Wheaton will be a top candidate for breakout player next year. But I also would like to see Cotchery back for one more season so he can get his SB ring. He is a class act and deserves it. Far more than Ray Lewis ever did.

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