Cedrick Wilson was one of the standouts at training camp, a player who kept catching the eye of coach Bill Cowher with his speed and explosiveness. And, after three preseason games, he has looked like the player he was brought in through free agency to replace -- Plaxico Burress.
But for the wrong reason.
Wilson, a wide receiver who was signed from the San Francisco 49ers, has dropped passes from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in each of the past two preseason games, the latest coming Saturday night in a 17-10 loss to the Washington Redskins.
"I definitely have to get better and start making tough catches for Ben to give him confidence in us," Wilson said. "The old saying goes, if you touch the ball, you have to catch the ball. We have to hold ourselves accountable to catch those footballs. We got to make tough catches."
In Wilson's defense, neither of the dropped passes was an easy catch. The first came when he mistimed his jump and got two hands on a high pass from Roethlisberger in the end zone against the Miami Dolphins. The other occurred when he stretched for a wide throw on an out pattern against the Redskins.
Wilson had an 18-yard reception against the Redskins, but he has just two catches for 32 yards in three preseason games. He hasn't been able to transfer his practice performance to the game field, and said part of the reason is because he is being shuttled between two positions (flanker and split end) in practice.
The Steelers want Wilson to learn each position because he is the top backup to Hines Ward at flanker and Antwaan Randle El at split end.
"I'm trying to get there," said Wilson, who had 47 catches for 641 yards and three touchdowns last season with the 49ers. "During the course of the week, I'm playing two positions and you don't get a chance to run every route that's called in a game. You would really like to run those routes in practice so you have confidence going into the game.
"My whole focus has been pretty sporadic, moving from position to position. I would like to be in one place, but right now that's not possible. So I got to be able to adapt to the situation."
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