Wow, that was quick (that's what SHE said! I'm only saying it because you were thinking it).
Just days after changing his number as part of an attempt to salvage his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler, wide receiver Limas Sweed suffered an Achilles tendon injury that will probably sideline him for the entire 2010 season. It was expected that the Steelers would allow Sweed to challenge for third or fourth receiver duties behind starters Hines Ward and Mike Wallace this training camp.
Now, the former Texas star will likely be fighting to secure his roster spot after playing two full seasons and still not giving anybody a reason to believe he is anything more than a second round bust.
The good news for Steelers Nation is that the absence of Sweed isn’t likely to affect the Steelers depth at wide receiver. The Steelers shocked us all by deciding to take advantage of free agency this offseason.
They splurged on two proven veteran play makers by reacquiring Antwaan Randle El and bringing in special teams ace Arnaz Battle. With the addition of Emmanuel Sanders via this year’s draft, the Steelers will likely have one of the better receiving corps in the NFL this coming season.
During his first stint with the Steelers, Randle El showed his ability to produce solid numbers as the teams number three receiver. He also added an element of surprise with his gadget plays and ability to throw the football.
Even though the only thing Randle El really did during his stint with the Redskins was fatten up his bank account, you should expect him to pickup where he left off in 2006. I believe Randle El will be the number three receiver to start the season while possibly contributing on punt/kick returns.
While playing for the 49ers from 2003-2009, Arnaz Battle pulled in 178 catches for 2,150 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also rushed for 77 yards and a score. Most of his contributions came on special teams though, which was one of Pittsburgh’s major weaknesses last year. He likely will not see much action on offense, but Battle should add a spark to a special teams unit in desperate need of quality playmakers.
After putting together a solid college campaign at SMU, Emmanuel Sanders was selected by the Steelers with the 82nd overall pick in the third round of this year's NFL draft. Though he will likely require a year or two to develop, Sanders should see some playing time this season as the fourth receiver on Pittsburgh’s depth chart.
Also on the roster for the start of training camp are receivers Antonio Brown, Jason Chery, Tyler Grisham, and Brandon London.
Grisham has a playing style similar to that of Wes Welker and Kevin Curtis. With starter Hines Ward suffering from injury last December, he was promoted to the active roster and got his first real shot at playing time against the Ravens. Grisham had 1 catch for 14 yards that went for a first down and eventually led to the game winning field goal.
It’s probably safe to assume that Grisham will make the final 53-man roster, but Brown, Chery, and London seem to be the odd men out. If any of them do stay with the team, it will almost certainly be as a member of the practice squad.
When the season starts, Steelers fans should expect to see Hines Ward and Mike Wallace handling the starting duties with Antwaan Randle El playing in the third spot. This likely leaves Emmanuel Sanders, Tyler Grisham, and Arnaz Battle to fight for the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions on the depth chart if the Steelers decide to go with six receivers.
Keep in mind that they also have a very good weapon in tight end Heath Miller. Backup tight end Matt Spaeth has shown promise but seems much more effective either when he is blocking or is showing his support for Mother Earth by watering the grass with teammate Jeff Reed outside of random Pittsburgh bars.
With the amount of talent that currently makes up the Steelers roster, there is a very good chance that Pittsburgh will finally cut ties with receiver Limas Sweed. Given the lack of production his first two seasons and the fact that he will likely spend this year on IR, Sweed has probably used up all his chances. I would be shocked if he is still a member of the team when the season gets underway.
After reading this, you will hopefully walk away feeling a little bit better about the Steelers receiving corps going into the 2010 season. When news broke of Limas Sweed’s injury there were many people who, for reasons I just can’t understand, saw this as a major blow to the Steelers depth.
Since Sweed has produced very little going into his third season as a Steeler, I see no reason why they should keep him around. Pittsburgh certainly has a history of taking the time to develop rookies, but a second round pick with the talent and promise that Sweed showed in college should be well on his way to earning a starting job going into his third year. Not fighting for a position on the depth chart.
I think it’s finally time for the organization to pull the plug on the life support machine that has kept Sweed's career alive in Pittsburgh this long.