Aug 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton (11) warms-up before the game against the New York Giants at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers go to work with a variety of weapons

Many people are excited about exactly how good the Pittsburgh Steelers offense can be in 2014.

That is especially true after a 6-2 finish to the season and the simple fact that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be back under center.

But after losing two of his top three targets in the offseason in Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, bringing the total to three weapons that Big Ben has lost in the past two offseasons, Kevin Colbert and his staff had to do something to get Roethlisberger bodies to throw to.

While Colbert didn’t bring in a star, he did sign veterans Lance Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey. While Colbert didn’t use a first or second round draft pick on a weapon, he did select Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant in the third and fourth round as both are expected to play a large role in the Steelers offense this season.

Throw in the returning Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Justin Brown and Derek Moye and what do you get?

A very deep receiving core for sure.

If anything, offensive coordinator Todd Haley is certainly impressed with the numbers.

“As a group, it’s as deep a group as I’ve been around from top to bottom,” Haley told the Post Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo. “There are some pretty good football players who probably won’t make the team. That means you have some good players. Lance Moore is a sharp, smart guy who has picked things up quick. Markus Wheaton and Justin have been here and you can see they have a year under their belt. Those are the two guys I saw during the offseason. They’d be in there working. They have a different confidence level in what they’re doing and what we’re doing.”

While the depth is certainly a great problem to have and something not all teams can boast, it doesn’t mean much if some of these guys don’t step up and make plays.

What we do know is Antonio Brown will start on one side and Moore will take over the duties in the slot.

That means someone has to step up and produce opposite Brown.

Right now that guy appears to be Wheaton and without putting pressure on the second year pro, he could be the difference maker on whether this is an outstanding group of receivers or just an average one.

If Wheaton (or whoever earns the other starting job) can deliver the production that Sanders and Mike Wallace provided before him then this offense has the chance to be pretty special.

I wasn’t a fan of Sanders, but if Wheaton can’t catch 60 or more passes this season it will be a cause for concern.

However if he does and you throw in the fact that the Steelers should be better up and down the roster in terms of pass catchers and you have to like what the offense can be capable of.

Throw in the fact that Heath Miller has looked great so far and the team should be able to run the ball better and this team should be able to put plenty of points on the board in 2014.


Tags: Markus Wheaton Pittsburgh Steelers

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