Pittsburgh Steeler Who Must Step Up to Replace Mike Wallace
An expanded role only boosts a player's numbers if that player can handle the added responsibility.
Even if Mike Wallace ends his holdout today, he won’t be at the top of his game for the first few weeks of the season. His hiatus has simply lasted too long.
Luckily for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have the talent to make up for the loss of Wallace's production until he regains his game-breaking ability.
Until then, here are three Steelers whose roles will be quite large.
3. Chris Rainey
Todd Haley never had a weapon like Rainey on the Arizona Cardinals.
Haley did wonders with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, but he lacked a playmaker of Rainey's ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands.
In the first action of his NFL career, the former Florida Gator took a screen pass 57 yards for a touchdown. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Haley plans on calling plenty of more screens this season.
I wonder why.
2. Heath Miller
When given an opportunity for an expanded role, the talented tight end can produce in a big way, as he did back in 2009 when he hauled in 76 balls for 789 yards and six touchdowns. He’ll need to do the same this season.
The 6’5” tight end has only caught two touchdowns each of the past two seasons. That has to change. But he definitely has the ability to post greater numbers.
While the Steelers often use him as a blocker, expect them to utilize him more as a receiver in Haley’s pass-happy system.
1. Emmanuel Sanders
In 2010, Pittsburgh drafted Sanders in the third round. Three rounds later, it selected Antonio Brown.
Brown has emerged as a top-notch receiver, while injuries have kept Sanders from securing a role. With Hines Ward gone, though, the third wide out spot is Sanders’ for the taking. He could even start a game or two if Wallace is behind on his conditioning.
He’s shown flashes of brilliance and Wallace’s holdout has opened the door for Sanders more than anyone else.
He must take advantage.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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