View Full Version : Steelers WR group shaping up nicely...

05-08-2005, 01:57 PM
There will be plenty of competition at wide receiver this season for the Steelers as the roster is filled with some returning veterans and an array of talent new to the team.

Hines Ward returns as the team?s top receiver, but with the departure of Plaxcio Burress this off-season the competition is expected to heat up, even during the team?s mini-camp this weekend.

Antwaan Randle El, who was the number three receiver last year, will be competing along with Cedrick Wilson, signed as an unrestricted free agent from San Francisco, for the spot open opposite of Ward.

There will be others vying for playing time as well. Lee Mays and Sean Morey return and the team drafted Fred Gibson from Georgia in the fourth-round.

?There are a lot of guys,? said Cowher. ?It?s going to be interesting. There are some positions open, and there are people who have some opportunities to show themselves.

?There are some guys who were with us last year but hadn?t been through a training camp, and couple that with Fred Gibson and a couple of the free agents we signed, there are some numbers there. We?ll see how those guys separate from each other. There?s going to be some healthy competition.?

While the coaches are getting some good first impressions of the receivers during mini-camp, it?s still too early to make overall judgments of their adjustment to the offense. But Cowher is looking forward to what Gibson can do once he learns the offense.

?He?s a big target,? said Cowher. ?He?s always been a pretty good route-runner. He always caught the ball. I know at times there were some inconsistencies at Georgia, but you know what, the thing I?ve always tried to do is not let the past hinder your evaluation of the player.

?He?s a kid with a lot of upside, and when he gets comfortable within our system he?ll have a chance to play. I like some of the things I?ve seen, but he still has a ways to go to feel comfortable in our system.?

Gibson is just getting his first look at the Steelers offense during mini-camp, and everyone else is getting a first look at him. At 6-4, 202 pounds, he is bound to remind some of Burress, but Ward doesn?t want him to even worry about that.

?Everyone is going to compare him because he is tall,? said Ward, who missed practice on Saturday with a quad contusion. ?I told Fred he needs to be Fred, not to try to be Plax. Plax is his own person, a great wideout. But with myself, Cedrick, Antwaan, Lee Mays and Fred, we call all go out there and be playmakers and not miss a beat.?

05-08-2005, 02:56 PM
I hope Gibson can take over at Plax's old position. I think Cowher will bring him along slowly with El, and the singing of Cedrick Wilson. I wonder if Zamir Cobb will impress the coaches enough to get some playing time. It will be a battle at WR. I think El will start across from Ward, but you cant ignore Gibson's height/speed combo.......

05-08-2005, 05:47 PM
Looking forward to the upcoming season, still not sold on Wilson yet. Would like to see Gibson play.

06-09-2005, 01:39 PM
By Bob Labriola

It?s one of the few areas on the team where an offseason loss created an opening in the starting lineup, but ironically it?s also one of the deepest areas on the depth chart.

Plaxico Burress was a starting wide receiver dating back to his rookie season of 2000, but he?s now employed by the New York Giants. That means the spot opposite Hines Ward is available, and the competition for that job will be fierce. But so will the competition for each of the roster spots to be allocated to wide receivers during the 2005 season.

How many receivers will be on the final roster? Figure on five for sure, maybe six. But this is only the off-season, and a roster?s configuration can be affected by a variety of factors between now and the day the Steelers have to cut down to 53 players.

?I don?t think there?s any doubt this is a highly competitive group right now,? said wide receivers coach Bruce Arians. ?To say who gets to stay from (roster spots) four to six, we?ll have to cut some guys who can play in this league. Zamir Cobb?s coming back, and he had an outstanding camp last year.?

When Arians refers to the competition for the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 spots on the depth chart, he?s assuming that the first three spots will go to Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El and Cedrick Wilson; their performances in minicamp and coaching sessions have reinforced that opinion.

Ward is the only receiver in franchise history to post four 1,000-yard seasons and to be voted to four Pro Bowls. As has been his history, Ward is a fixture at all offseason workouts, and he has done so this year as negotiations for a contract extension continue.

Randle El has made an amazingly smooth and quick transformation from being a one-man offense as an option quarterback at Indiana to an NFL wide receiver. Because he was a slot receiver during each of his first two NFL seasons, there were questions whether Randle El could be productive as a starter. But in the four games Burress missed with a hamstring injury last year, Randle El averaged 20.6 yards on each of his 13 receptions; during coaching sessions Randle El punctuated the session by making a fine grab of a pass 40 yards downfield from Ben Roethlisberger.

Wilson was the most significant veteran addition of this offseason, and he has had his impressive moments already. When he signed with the Steelers, Wilson said his ability to get deep comes from stop-and-start quickness, and he has flashed that at times, to go along with sure hands and crisp route-running.

Those three guys have starting NFL experience, and that serves to separate them from the pack. But for the Steelers this year, that pack has some talent.

?There are a lot of guys. It?s going to be interesting,? said Coach Bill Cowher. ?There are some positions open, and there are people who have some opportunities to show themselves. Antwaan Randle El is looking for an expanded role; Cedrick Wilson has some experience coming from San Francisco. Lee Mays is much further along in terms of his development. There?s a good group of young guys. Sean Morey is getting his first chance to go through a training camp with us; Walter Young, a guy from our practice squad last year, is someone we picked up late.

?There are some guys who were with us last year but hadn?t been through a training camp, and couple that with Fred Gibson and a couple of the free agents we signed, there are some numbers there. We?ll see how those guys separate from each other. There?s going to be some healthy competition.?

In addition to those Cowher mentioned, Cobb has come back from a season on injured reserve with the same burst, the same combination of quickness and speed that had him on the cusp of making the 53-man roster last summer. A serious leg injury ruined Cobb?s bid last year, but he?s back and looking like a more experienced version of the same player.

?He was impressive last year. He had a great camp,? said Arians. ?It might have been a blessing that he broke his leg and got to sit around and watch good players for a year.?

Cobb made his run at a roster spot last summer as an undrafted rookie, and Nate Washington is another player with similar pedigree and interesting raw skills. During his career at Division II Tiffin, Washington scored 47 touchdowns.

And even though NFL teams don?t have to make their final cuts until Sept. 4, the off-season was an important time for this group of receivers.

?What?s become more apparent to me as I?ve been around this longer is the chemistry that evolves between the quarterback and those receivers, and when you develop that chemistry is this time of year,? said offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

?After being in the Pro Bowl, and having a chance to work with Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, you could see them talk about how they work together in the offseason and develop that chemistry. And I think that?s what we can get done here. That?s where you get an understanding of how they?re going to break the route off, what they?re going to see, how you anticipate the throws, how they feel comfortable with what they?re doing. That?s where I think we?ll make the biggest strides.?

06-09-2005, 03:59 PM
It will be interesting to see who makes the final cut...Regardless, I am excited about our offensive potential this year!

06-09-2005, 05:47 PM
I agree totally BB2, competition too will make them stronger, if they all learn from a team leader like Hines , then we should be in good shape

06-10-2005, 02:09 AM
just a dumb question but have we resigned Ward yet??? or did i miss that?

06-10-2005, 11:10 AM
just a dumb question but have we resigned Ward yet??? or did i miss that?
As far as I've seen it's still in negotiations. Wish they'd hurry up and get him signed.

06-10-2005, 01:51 PM
Lot's of hype surrounding Cobb. But beyond some camp time, not much to back it up just yet. One preseason game. Not a lock for the roster. Could land on the practice squad. Sure, my Steeler homeristic-self says "But he'll be snatched up in a second!" But then I think about how outside of the Steeler media, there really isn't much noise about Cobb. At this time of year, almost every team has a "can't-miss" newcomer who is sure to turn heads in camp. Most don't pan out though.

Of course, it all depends on how many WR's we take into the season. Is it 5 or 6? Not a huge difference at first glance but certainly it's a big deal as to who makes the team.

I think the 3 guys who really fight for the final 1 or 2 spots (I believe Ward, ARE, Wilson, and Gibson take the #1-#4 WR spots) are Mays, Cobb, and Morey. Morey is of course a ST-only guy. I read the other day that he caught a 40 yard pass over Colclough but that was a bad day by Colclough rather than a sign of things to come from Morey.

Some feel Mays has improved over the past few years. He had some nice catches at the end of last year and has nice height but I don't think he's very reliable at catching. Certainly doesn't use his speed to his advantage...at least from what I've seen.

I like Cobb. Sure, it's all from what I've read but he was opposite Larry Fitzgerald on the First Team All-Big East Team in '03. A shining star on a lackluster Owls team if you will. Cobb fits the mold of a ARE or Wilson as far as size goes but with Miller and Gibson, we certainly have receivers with good height.

I think guys like Walter Young and Nate Washington have a tough time making the team. Maybe they end up on the practice squad, maybe not. But I don't think they factor in this year. But I've been wrong before...one time...a long time ago...and I kept it a secret until now.

06-10-2005, 01:53 PM
Good take Stillers, I still think that Cobb is the real deal also. I beleive he also has the staff in his corner, they seemed impressed

06-10-2005, 02:10 PM
Arians seems impressed with the kid. Seems to have a great work ethic and hasn't lost a step. But I can understand the skepticism. Look at kffl.com...everyone in the NFL seems be having the best camp ever, looks better than ever, looks posed for a breakout year, etc. It seems everyone is going to the ProBowl this year. :rolleyes: Until Cobb proves himself beyond one exhibition game, the skepticism will remain with many.

Hopefully Cobb can remain healthy and win the spot so there is little-to-no question who the better WR was. I'll be rooting for him.

06-10-2005, 03:30 PM
Ditto, I `ll be rooting for anyone in Black and Gold though LOL

06-10-2005, 04:07 PM
From the media report I read, Cobb's work ethic really fits the Steeler mode...a la Ward or ARE.

Walter Young is an interesting prospect. Did very well at U. Illini. Has the height/size. But with Gibson, I'm not sure Young fits into the picture. At least not more so than Mays would. We had a guy from UCF last year, Huey Whittaker. I thought he might make it due to his size but he didn't last long.

Suppossedly Chris Collins had a pretty solid season over in NFLE. He was another practice squad guy last year. Fits the size-mold of ARE. Another long-shot.