Pittsburgh Steelers: Sanders, Ward Injuries Give Limas Sweed New Life

Nick DeWittAnalyst IAugust 2, 2011

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 18:  Limas Sweed #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers makes a reception against Evan Oglesby #25 of the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Championship game on January 18, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Remember him?

Three seasons ago, Limas Sweed was a second-round pick with first-round talent who was expected to do great things for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It was thought that Sweed, a Texas product, would quickly ascend to the No. 2 in the depth chart and give the Steelers a viable threat opposite Hines Ward.

As is so often the case, things have not worked out as planned for Sweed or the Steelers. In three years, he’s gone from heralded prospect to jeered failure. Until this week, it seemed as though Sweed would be forgotten one last time in camp and would find himself on the heap of cuts that always accompany NFL camps.

But injuries always seem to breed opportunity and now Sweed has some new life. Earlier today, ESPN reported that Emmanuel Sanders, who had the rookie year in 2010 that Sweed once thought would be his property, is still slow to recover from offseason foot surgery. With his status uncertain and with Hines Ward nursing an injury as well, the Steelers are now razor thin at receiver.

Sanders’ and Ward’s loss could be Sweed’s treasure. He should now get the bulk of playing time at the third and fourth receiver spots; his only competition being special teams ace Arnaz Battle and a host of unknown, undrafted players.

Sweed’s poor experience won’t save him from being cut, but a stellar preseason performance similar to what he seemed to be headed toward in 2010 would go a long way toward keeping him on the roster. The Steelers obviously have interest at the position after they courted troubled Plaxico Burress last week; so maybe Sweed can be their answer.

They drafted the kid for a reason, right?

For Sweed, it’s still a slim chance with no margin for error, but it’s a better chance than he had yesterday. If he wants to be an NFL receiver, it’s time for him to step up to the plate and challenge everyone else for their roster spots.

If he does that, stays on the roster, stays healthy and is productive, he could revive his career and make Steelers fans forget about a pair of touchdown passes that weren’t.

If you’re looking for a feel-good story in Pittsburgh, this might be it.