New Steelers receivers Heyward-Bey, Moore are deep on NFL experience
Darrius Heyward-Bey knows there are more accomplished receivers than him in the NFL.
The former top-10 pick, with his third team in three years, isn't blind to the fact there have been more talented receivers running routes alongside him during the first three days of Steelers organized team activities.
But what Heyward-Bey offers (even more than his 4.2 speed), along with fellow free agent Lance Moore, is what the Steelers hope offsets the loss of Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos) and Jerricho Cotchery (Panthers): experience.
“A coach would like to play a guy who knows what he is doing first over the guy who has all the ability,” Heyward-Bey said. “That's something that works in my favor.”
While the Steelers wait to see whether Markus Wheaton can take a step forward in his second season and claim a starting spot and for fourth-round pick Martavis Bryant to learn the system, the Steelers went with a fallback plan steeped in experience in the interim.
Heyward-Bey, who signed for the league minimum, has played in 72 games in five years including starting 63. Moore has 101 games played in a pass-heavy offense like New Orleans.
Add those two to tight end Heath Miller and receiver Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger will head into the season with the second-most experienced group of pass catchers he has had in his decade as the Steelers quarterback.
The only time Roethlisberger had this experienced of a receiving group was in 2010 when the Steelers last went to the Super Bowl. That unit — with Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El — had 31 more games played than this year's projected unit.
“It's fun to see the transition with the new guys and some of the other faces getting back out here,” Roethlisberger said.
While Heyward-Bey and Moore might not have the talent of some of the other receivers on the roster, they have experience, the ability to play multiple positions, the trust of their coaches and, most important, intelligence.
“The one thing that has kept me in this league — and I have started every year that I've played in this league — is that I am a smart guy,” Heyward-Bey said. “I know a lot of different places to play on the field. Some guys are handcuffed to one spot, where I feel like I am intelligent.”
Heyward-Bey, who can play outside or inside, brings something to the Steelers that they lacked last year following Mike Wallace's departure to Miami — the deep ball.
The Steelers had 32 receptions of 25 yards or longer with a large portion of those being catch-and-runs by Brown.
Over his five years in the NFL, 26 percent of Heyward Bey's targets have come from 20 yards or longer.
“They think I am fast,” Heyward-Bey said. “I have been the same speed my whole life. If that is what they need me to do — to be the deep threat — that's what I will do. If they need me blocking, then sure. If they need me on special teams … I am a team-first guy.”
Brown added: “He is definitely a blazer and can be a real asset to our team.”
Moore's versatility and experience playing in an up-tempo offense are what attracted the Steelers to him. Despite being 5-foot-9, Moore can play all three positions, even though slot is where he excels. He also is a legitimate red-zone option as 26 of his career 38 touchdowns have come inside the 20.
“I've prided myself in my career being one of those guys that kind of just does whatever the team needs him to do,” Moore said. “I played a lot of football and have been successful in a number of roles, catching the ball and in a bunch of different situations as well. I feel like I have made a lot of plays and will continue to do that.”
All that is left is for Heyward-Bey and Moore to get familiarized with Roethlisberger and coordinator Todd Haley's offense.
“Getting on the same page is the most important for a new receiver with a quarterback who has been somewhere for a long time,” Moore said. “You have to do what it takes to get on the same page.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Steelers receiver Brown skipping voluntary offseason workouts
- Interior linemen replace flash with experience for this year’s NFL Draft
- Versatile Iowa lineman Scherff in solid position
- This year’s NFL Draft does not appear to offer a Gronkowski type
- Minnesota tight end Williams hopes to join father as 1st-round pick
- Steelers won’t be backed into a corner at NFL Draft
- Maligned Nebraska OLB Gregory visits Steelers
- Steelers veteran cornerback Ike Taylor announces retirement
- Steelers name player engagement coordinator