It's official. The Pittsburgh Steelers' second-year wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will miss the remainder of training camp after another procedure was done on his foot. Sanders is reportedly on crutches right now, and Ed Bouchette said that Sanders played in the Super Bowl with a broken foot.
Though his right foot was broken in the Super Bowl, he wound up having offseason surgery to repair breaks in both feet. The most recent surgery, on his left foot, was done 12-13 weeks ago. He reported to camp and ran the first day and practiced the second, but began having problems with his foot.
Sanders is now expected to miss the remainder of training camp, which will be a huge setback for him. Sanders was expected to get first-team reps with Hines Ward sitting out with a thumb injury. Sanders, who caught 28 passes last year in his rookie campaign, was expected to take another big step this year as the Steelers No. 3 receiver.
Perhaps the Steelers knew that Sanders wasn't healthy. Perhaps that's why they pursued Plaxico Burress. Now, all of sudden, the Steelers seem thin at the receiver position. Mike Wallace is a superstar, but Sanders is injured, Hines Ward is getting older and older and Antonio Brown is only going into his second year.
Brown will likely be the team's No. 2 receiver for the time being, which could be big for him. It should result in lots and lots of reps and decent playing time in preseason. Few remember this, but Brown had arguably the biggest catch of the year last year for the Steelers in the playoff win over Baltimore. He is talented but still lacks experience. Will he be ready?
Another wild card is Limas Sweed. Sweed has had emotional problems off the field and problems catching the ball on it. Sweed does have the pedigree and the skill set needed to succeed in the NFL, but he has yet to put it all together. Preseason will be his chance to shine and prove that he can be the tall receiever the Steelers want and need.
If the Steelers don't feel comfortable with Sweed and Brown just yet, look for them to sign a veteran reciever. Derrick Mason, Malcolm Floyd, and TJ Houshmandzadeh are all free-agents. Mason would make the most sense and is a durable veteran, a great route-runner and has sure hands. Mason and Ward could work all of the underneath routes while Wallace and Brown go deep. It could be a deadly combination.
Or, hey, maybe the Steelers can convince Randy Moss to come out of retirement. Moss, Wallace and Ward? How's that sound, Steeler Nation?