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The Steelers are coming into Saturday’s game with nine receivers on the roster. Six of those receivers were not on the Steelers roster a season ago.
Aside from Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, and practice squad player turned late season active roster signee Tyler Grisham, everyone running routes for the Steelers will be a 2010 newcomer.
There are two sets of receivers in particular that should spark some interest for Steeler fans.
1) The Rookies – Emmanuel Sanders (3rd round selection) and Antonio Brown (6th round selection) are both coming in to this first game with something to prove.
Sanders is a speedster with good hands and fearlessness that most players his size do not have. It will be interesting to see how a player of his small frame and stature stands up to the physical bump coverage on the NFL level.
Sanders should also get an opportunity at some point to return a few kicks, and with his elite speed the possibility for fireworks is there every time he gets the ball in space.
Brown on the other hand is a 5’10” slot receiver with 4.4 speed that lacks the strength and size to line up on the line of scrimmage at the NFL level. This was not one of the Steelers’ better picks from a paper perspective, but it should be interesting to see what the Steelers saw in him and if he is up to the task of justifying the draft pick they spent on him.
2) The Veterans – The Steelers brought back the departed Antwaan Randle El from Washington and signed Arnaz Battle, who comes to Pittsburgh out of Notre Dame via the San Francisco 49ers.
While Randle El knows the system the big black and gold elephant in the room is whether or not he has lost a step, and what he will be capable of in the Steelers’ offense.
Battle is another tough football player to add to the Steelers stable of receivers. At 6’1”, 208 pounds, Battle is one of the bigger and potentially more dynamic receivers on the team.
He has never been a premier receiver, but he has always been a complete one. Battle has the ability to not only catch the football, but also block, and return kicks.
It is clear that the quarterbacks, especially Ben Roethlisberger, have taken a liking to Battle during workouts. It is unclear however, what his role is going to be once the regular season comes around. Whatever that role will be, we will get a glimpse of what he brings to the table for the first time Saturday night.