Here's Some Shocking, Wide Receiver Related Optimism

If my first post at this venue was an attack on Steelers’ management, I would beg Kevin Colbert and company to consider this my form of an apology.

No, I don’t suddenly believe that Pittsburgh’s offensive line is perfect. Unfortunately nothing on that front has changed. However, my confidence in one personnel group is higher than it’s been in some time: the wide receivers.

Obviously, it’s easy to be excited about Mike Wallace. The breakout star placed 5th in the whole league in receiving yards last year and is averaging an insane 21 yards per catch.

And despite all the distractions surrounding Hines Ward, from the dancing to the DUI, I’m still grateful to have the best blocking receiver in the league on the team.

My real reason for optimism is the presence of Mr. Antonio Brown. His game clinching catch in last year’s AFC Championship game certainly established him as one of 2010’s heroes, but his development over the course of the offseason has been stunning.

His 230 yards and 3 touchdowns over three preseason games certainly looks good, but more importantly, he has demonstrated sure hands, blazing speed and seems to be one of Ben’s new favorite targets.

While Emmanuel Sanders has certainly earned a considerable bit of respect as well, his injury concerns have made his hold on the third receiver job seem tenuous, especially given the play of Brown, and I’m happy to say that I’d have no problem seeing either receiver in the role.

Even more exciting is the prospect of going forward with a core of Wallace, Sanders and Brown even after Ward retires, although knowing him that day won’t come until his legs physically will no longer work.

But my optimism doesn’t end with Brown. In fact, one signing that flew under the radar is the addition of Jerricho Cotchery to the receiving corps. Nominally Cotchery will be the fifth receiver, but this is the same player that had a 1,000 yard season just four years ago and left New York largely due to conflict with the coaching staff rather than a decline in abilities. Of course, having Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback rather than Mark Sanchez will surely help him along, and if he can carve out a role in the offense, then he could absolutely follow in Ward’s footsteps as a physical, possession style wideout.

While Ben may certainly not be thrilled with constantly being on the run because of his offensive line’s play this year, he can be confident that his receivers will be able to help him out of any sticky situation.

That may not necessarily be the best defense against shoddy guard play, but it definitely helps.

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