Dearth at WR? Depends who you ask
By Joe Bendel
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Plaxico Burress is gone. Hines Ward is AWOL. And the Steelers receiving corps is in deep trouble.
Or, maybe not.
"People see this as a negative because they don't know the rest of the receivers," said Antwaan Randle El, who is expected to replace Burress. "You take two superstars away, and the first thing anybody thinks is, 'Oh, goodness, they're in trouble now!' Well, that's not the way we see it. You might have taken two superstars away, but the superstars were the ones who were getting the majority of the opportunities. Now, you give other guys a chance and you get to see what they can do."
Randle El is fairly confident he already knows what the "other guys" can do.
"When the replacements begin to shine, then people start opening their eyes and they say, 'Hines and Plax aren't here, but the replacements are still holding their weight," he said. "We have enough guys who can get the job done."
Can this team survive without Ward for an entire season, though?
"If the situation occurs, I don't think we'll struggle with it or not be able to compete and make plays," Randle El said. "Because I think we have the guys who can go out and make the plays."
As things currently stand, Randle El and former San Francisco 49ers receiver Cedrick Wilson are listed as the first-team receivers, with Wilson taking over for Ward at flanker. Wilson would move back to split end and compete with Randle El for the starting job if Ward returns.
A number of players, including fourth-round pick Fred Gibson, veterans Lee Mays and Sean Morey, and 2004 free-agent rookie Zamir Cobb are fighting for one of the five wideout spots.
Ward, a four-time Pro Bowler, is in the midst of a holdout. He and the Steelers exchanged offers on a contract extension, but the two sides could not come to terms. The Steelers have said they won't negotiate any further with Ward, who has a year remaining on his current deal, until he shows up for camp.
Meantime, the organization is pressing on with Randle El and Wilson.
"I think El can have a big year easily," wide receivers coach Bruce Arians said. "And I think Cedrick could have that type of year, too. Plus, you never know who can bust out, because whoever's playing, we're going to be throwing him the ball."
Wilson said yesterday he believes the Steelers got him for a bargain rate at $8 million over four years when they signed him as a free agent in the offseason.
Asked if he's ready to be the next Hines Ward, Wilson shot back quickly.
"No ... I'm Cedrick Wilson," he said.
Wilson caught everything at the team's first practice yesterday, including a juggling 40-yard grab between Chris Hope and Ricardo Coclough
Rest of the article: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/trib.../s_359783.html
These guys have a lot of talent. I do think Randle El is more than capable of starting. Cedrick Wilson seems to be doing well with the practices. I would feel more confident having Ward in there though.