With Antonio Brown being the only consistent receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there’s uncertainty about which other player will break out and become a suitable complement to him.
Last season, with only six catches for 64 yards, Wheaton was barely a commodity. This season he will need to take a huge step forward. Wheaton was minimized by a finger issue during last season, but even without the injury his role was limited as former receiver Emmanuel Sanders had the No. 2 spot locked up.
With Sanders gone and Jerricho Cotchery now in Carolina, the Steelers have a different looking receiving corps. Drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft, Wheaton was expected to be a “receiver in the waiting,” as the Steelers had a some of the best young receivers in the NFL at that time. That, however, has changed as they only have Brown left.
Embracing the role of second receiver is a must for Wheaton. He’s the best option, while others like Justin Brown and Derek Moye will be battling just to make the roster. Veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey is making a case to see time as his height and speed has been a real advantage in camp thus far. Lance Moore will be a “sure hands” kind of player, playing mostly in the slot, filling the shoes of the departed Cotchery.
Wheaton has all the abilities to be a better number two guy than Sanders was. If he can continue to progress, he’ll be a reliable weapon for Ben Roethlisberger.
Linebacker Ryan Shazier comes as advertised.
I’ll be the first to admit I was disappointed when the Steelers selected the former Ohio State linebacker, like most, I wanted them to address the secondary.
Shazier as a rookie is poised to start this season. It isn’t often a rookie linebacker is thrown into a starting role on the Steelers’ defense, but Shazier is a special player who is more than right for the role.
When drafted, he was described as “fast.” That holds true, but he’s also instinctive and very athletic. He’s a spark the defense could use to get back into the sack numbers they’ve been known for.
If Shazier proves to be a true first-round caliber player and last year’s first round pick, Jarvis Jones can perform on a high lever than last season then the Steelers will have a special, young tandem of linebackers on their hands.
He won’t be perfect, no rookie is but he’ll be stud on this defense in a short amount of time.
This team will need the likes of Wheaton and Shaizer to get back on track.
So far, so good.