ShareThis Page

Steelers' WRs 'all business' as running game sorts itself out

| Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, 11:18 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton beats the Chiefs for a third-quarter touchdown Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown makes a 49-yard catch while being defended by the Chiefs' Sean Smith during the first quarter Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, at Heinz Field.

Mike Wallace raced off to Miami with $60 million worth of young money, so what to call the remaining members of the Steelers' youthful, rich and ambitious wide receiving corps?

How about this: No nickname required.

Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and new addition Markus Wheaton are eschewing any catchy tags such as the former tag Young Money — perhaps reflecting their maturity, growth, ambition and ever-greater responsibilities in an offense that could revolve around them.

“No jibber-jabber,” Sanders said. “It's all business.”

At least early in the season, the Steelers' offense could be all about the wideouts.

With the running game still sorting itself out following Le'Veon Bell's injury, Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers — nearly all of whom are in different roles from a season ago — need to be consistent, productive and dependable.

That means showing up mentally for every game, not just 11 or 12 games.

“He's got to be ready to come and play for us week in and week out,” injured tight end Heath Miller said of Brown, who supplants Wallace as the No. 1 receiver. “Emmanuel, the same thing. They should be coming into the good years of their career and we expect a lot from them.”

So does Roethlisberger, who appeared comfortable in training camp throwing to any of his wide receivers in any situation, including veteran Jerricho Cotchery, who isn't being discarded even as Wheaton takes numerous snaps as the slot receiver.

The 25-year-old Brown looked like a primary receiver as he caught three passes for 61 yards Saturday against the Chiefs. Sanders, who at 26 is playing the role Brown filled last season, is embracing the multiple layers of responsibility that go with that job, even the blocking.

Wheaton, the fast but physical third-round pick, might have opened more eyes at training camp than any other rookie. The veterans are impressed by his work ethic and humility, character qualities that are in greater evidence in the wide receivers room than they were before.

“There's always talent in receiving room, I feel, and this year, there is a lot of talent,” Miller said. “Antonio's been here for a while and he should be ready for, I don't want to say a breakout year, but a steady No. 1 receiver-type year.”

Brown showed up at training camp in a Rolls Royce. But his primary mode of transportation was a bicycle that's parked next to his locker.

It's almost as if he's sending a message: Sure, I can be a flashy form of transportation, but a reliable one, too.

“I've still got a lot to prove, still got a lot to show,” Brown said. “I want to be a leader, I want to be a guy that guys look to and feed off. A guy who understands how to go about business and a guy who provides situational plays for the team.”

That doesn't sound like a player at a glamour position who's just about the flash, dash and cash. Or the nickname.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.