Steelers invest in flashy receivers
By Scott Brown
Published: Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011,
One hasn't suited up for any of the Steelers' preseason games. Another has played in all of them but has barely registered a blip -- at least in the box scores.
The third member of the Steelers' "Money" receiving trio, meanwhile, has snagged the spotlight as easily as he has touchdown passes over the past month.
Not to worry, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace said Monday. They plan on joining Antonio Brown soon enough.
Sanders practiced yesterday, and he is on track to play in the Steelers' final preseason game Thursday night at Carolina.
Sanders, also known as "Young Money," has been sidelined or limited since the early part of training camp with a stress fracture in his left foot -- one that has been slow to heal.
Brown, Sanders' draft classmate and close friend, has emerged as the frontrunner for the No. 3 wide receiver spot behind Hines Ward and Wallace.
"I'm happy for my guy," Sanders said. "I'm in competition with myself and that's not showing up on the mental error sheet, catching every ball and making plays."
When asked if the gaggle of plays Brown has made has raised the bar for him, Sanders smiled.
"The bar has already been set by Mike Wallace," Sanders said. "He had a Pro Bowl year and that is the bar, Pro Bowls and Super Bowls around here."
Wallace, aka "Fast Money," indeed had a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2010, ranking second in the NFL in yards per catch (21.0) while hauling in 1,257 yards worth of passes -- seventh most on the Steelers' all-time single-season list.
He has said numerous times that his goal is to eclipse 2,000 receiving yards in 2011, which would represent a first in NFL history.
|Part of the Steelers' self-proclaimed "Money" group, Mike Wallace had a breakout season in 2010 while Emmanuel Sanders had a solid one as a rookie.|
But that has been the most noise Wallace has made since late July.
He has caught just two passes for 9 yards during the preseason, and his most memorable play has been a near-miss on a Ben Roethlisberger deep ball in an Aug. 12 game at Washington.
The lack of production can be attributed to a number of things, from decreased playing time for starters to the reality that the games don't count.
"I haven't made too many plays this preseason but I've been assignment-sound and I've been everywhere I need to be, so those things count, too," Wallace said. "I feel like when the regular season comes I'll get my plays, too, and I'm going to make the most of them when I get the ball."
Brown has made the most of the opportunities Sanders' injury and his relatively low profile have afforded him. The play of Brown -- his nickname is "All About Money" -- and the signing of Jerricho Cotchery have raised questions as to whether there will be enough balls to go around once the regular season starts.
That is especially true because the Steelers have a workhorse running back (Rashard Mendenhall), an underrated tight end (Heath Miller) and a desire to run the ball as much as they throw it.
"There's plenty of food out there on the table," Sanders said. "We've just all got to stay humble play within ourselves. It's going to be a track meet, how things are looking."
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