Pittsburgh Steelers Preview: The No. 3 Receiver Spot Goes To...
Going into this season we all know that Hines Ward and Mike Wallace have the starting spots on the depth chart all sewn up.
After trading former first round pick Santonio Holmes to the Jets, the Steelers left a hole at the third receiver spot on the roster. Since then they have made free agent signings and used draft picks on guys who can possibly fill that void on the roster.
The third receiver spot on any roster is essential to the success of a team, made evident by the impact of Mike Wallace last season for the Steelers.
In this article I discuss the top six candidates who are hoping to win the number three receiver spot on the roster. The slides are in order from the guy I believe has the least shot to the guy who I believe will win the job going into the season.
Brown has an uphill climb ahead of him as the Steelers probably have their receiving depth chart pretty much set in my opinion.
However, I have heard that he has been impressing coaches in practices and I would not be surprised to see him earn a spot on the roster on special teams as a returner.
Brown has the potential to be explosive and could develop. However, it is a long shot that he up ends Stefan Logan for the starting returner job this season.
Experience: 1 year
Career Receptions: 3
Career Receiving Yards: 30
Career Receiving Touchdowns: 0
Listed at 6’4, London is the tallest receiver on the roster since Limas Sweed was placed on injured reserve after tearing his achilles in practice.
This gives London a tiny edge over the undersized receivers Tyler Grisham and Antonio Brown and plays on special teams; however being tall does not guarantee you a spot on a roster.
Steelers have learned that fact well with the above mentioned Limas Sweed who has severely underperformed to expectations.
London will have to show a lot in camp to be considered for a spot on the Steelers final roster. However, I do not feel that it is going to happen.
Experience: 1 year
Career Receptions: 1
Career Receiving Yards: 14
Career Receiving Touchdowns: 0
I have become a fan of Tyler Grisham even though I have only seen him in one game and he only has one career catch on his resume.
I like his scrappiness, and I've heard him described as a Wes Welker type of player with good hands and quickness.
I'll be rooting for him in camp, however, there is really no shot for him to make the roster going into the season. He will end up on the practice squad and barring injury will not see the field much this season.
It is just a numbers game for Grisham as I thought he was going to get a shot this year however the signings of Battle and Randle El, and the drafting of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders really crushed that hope.
Experience: 8 years
Career Receptions: 178
Career Receiving Yards: 2150
Career Receiving Touchdowns: 11
Picked up in free agency this offseason by the Steelers, Arnaz Battle previously spent his entire career with the San Francisco 49ers. He was a solid receiver for the 49ers and even had a couple fifty reception seasons for them in his career.
Coming to the Steelers, Battle will be in the hunt for the third receiver spot on the team with Emmanuel Sanders and Antwaan Randle El; however, I do not believe he really has a shot. I do not discount him I just believe the Steelers have had a reason and a purpose for every signing they had this offseason and I do not think they have Battle as the third receiver in their eyes.
Again he could come out and have a great camp, however, when it is all said and done I believe the highest Battle could end up as is the fourth receiver and might actually end the season as the fifth receiver on the roster.
I believe his main purpose on the team this season will be on special teams and especially on kick cover teams.
3rd round pick (82 overall)
After Mike Wallace’s stellar rookie season there will be high expectations on Sanders going into his own rookie year. Even though he is a little undersized at about 5’11, 186 pounds, Sanders does not shy away from the middle of the field and could be the perfect future slot receiver for the Steelers.
Sanders is not as fast as Mike Wallace, however, he still has great speed and quickness and could be a great weapon to stretch defenses for the Steelers. He also has return game potential and will be given the opportunity to try for that job on the team as well.
In the end I do not believe that Sanders will win either job coming out of camp unless he really impresses in the preseason. This is nothing against him I just believe the Steelers have a plan for that third receiver spot and they will not feel Sanders is ready to start the season at that spot.
I do believe however that the Steelers have him in their future plans and by the end of the season he could be a main contributor in the offense just like Wallace was last year.
Antwaan Randle El
Experience: 9 years
Career Receptions: 348
Career Receiving Yards: 4214
Career Receiving Touchdowns: 15
Antwaan Randle El was originally drafted by the Steelers and left in free agency after the 2005 season. During his first tenure he was mainly used in the slot and as a return specialist and became the main catalyst for gadget plays: most notable the reverse touchdown pass he threw in Superbowl XL.
Off the Superbowl win and notoriety from the aforementioned reverse touchdown pass, Randle El signed a big money contract with the Washington Redskins. However, after not living up to expectations in Washington, to the surprise of many, Randle El signed with the Steelers this offseason.
Many questioned this signing since the Steelers still had Santonio Holmes on the roster; however after trading the troubled wide receiver, Randle El seems poised to take that third receiver spot on the roster. He will have to battle rookie Emmanuel Sanders and veteran Arnaz Battle for the spot however I think the Steelers signed Randle El for this specific purpose.
Unless either Sanders or Battle really impress in camp I believe Randle El will win the job going into the season. He will help with the development of the young receivers and may lose his job by the end of the year to the rookie Sanders depending on what the kid shows during the season.