Dec 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown catches a 60-yard touchdown pass against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half of the game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Is Antonio Brown capable of being the Steelers' No. 1 receiver?

Much was made this season about the disappointing season that Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Mike Wallace had and deservingly so.

Wallace had the lengthy holdout and had some problems holding onto the football. But as disappointing that Wallace was, it overshadowed the season that Antonio Brown had, which was equally as disappointing.

December 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) prepares on the sidelines against the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter The Cincinnati Bengals won 13-10. at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With Wallace presumed to be on his way out of Pittsburgh, it makes you wonder if Brown is capable of putting up the numbers of a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver without the services of the speedster Wallace on the other side of him.

Brown did catch 66 passes for 787 yards and five touchdowns, numbers that certainly would have been better had he not missed three weeks with a sprained ankle.

But Brown is the one that got the big contract in the offseason and his overall body of work did not live up to that.

The big plays were there, just for the other team.

Brown’s fourth-quarter fumble in Oakland territory led to a tying field goal by the Raiders, who went on to win, 34-31. He also lost a huge fourth-quarter fumble against Dallas and made other boneheaded plays during the season such as back pedaling into the end zone after a punt return.

He was the Steelers MVP just one season ago, but certainly didn’t perform like one this season.

There were plenty of reasons why the Steelers didn’t make the playoffs this season, but Brown certainly needs to shoulder his share of the blame.

You have to be just a little bit concerned about whether or not this was just an average season for him or if he is trending in that direction.

It’s real easy to write Wallace off right now, but the Steelers probably need him more than anyone realizes.

Emmanuel Sanders really didn’t emerge into a legitimate No. 2 and had his share of mishaps during the season as well.

I just don’t know how confident you can be in Brown and Sanders to shoulder the load of leading the receiving core.

Long-term I do think Brown will be just fine, but I am also concerned that opposing teams will be able to take him out of games without Wallace on the other side of him.

Hopefully he does emerge into a legitimate No. 1, because the Steelers need him to do so in a bad way.

But I am a lot less confident of that happening than I was at this time a year ago.

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Tags: Antonio Brown Emmanuel Sanders Mike Wallace Pittsburgh Steelers

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