Holmes proving to be a threat
Steelers' receiver Holmes proving to be quite threat in passing game
By John Harris
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Santonio Holmes isn't even the fastest receiver on the Steelers.
But today, when the Steelers host the San Francisco 49ers at Heinz Field, it doesn't matter who runs a 4.3 for the stopwatch.
Holmes is playing football, not running track.
Holmes has game speed. Coming out of his breaks, he has sprinter's speed.
After two games, Holmes has five catches for a team-high 108 yards. His 21.6-yard average also leads the team and tops AFC receivers who have a minimum of five catches.
Three of his catches were on third down, good for a healthy 17.7 yard average.
"It probably is overrated," Holmes said about the speed vs. quickness debate. "I'm aggressive to the ball. That describes my speed. When the ball's in the air, I'm going to adjust my speed to get the ball."
In the first quarter of the season opener against Cleveland, Holmes sold the Browns on a corner route, then beat two defenders on a post in catching a 40-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Lightning struck twice in the first quarter.
On the Steelers' second series last week against Buffalo, Roethlisberger went deep again to Holmes, throwing into the teeth of double-team coverage but was intercepted.
Holmes can't wait to hook up with Roethlisberger on another long pass.
"We're not going to change what we do just because we threw an interception," Holmes said. "You've just got to make the play next time. We've got receivers capable of making plays."
Holmes is proving more than capable.
The 25th pick in the 2006 draft, Holmes was the best receiver on an Ohio State team featuring two other first-round picks, Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez. Nineteen of Holmes' 53 catches his senior year were 20 yards or longer, and his 11 touchdown catches were the third-best single-season total in school history.
As a rookie, Holmes had 49 catches for 824 yards (16.8-yard average) and two touchdowns. His game-winning 67-yard touchdown catch against Cincinnst in overtime was the final play of the 2006 season.
He appears to be picking up where he left off.
"We need someone that's going to stretch the field -- myself, Nate (Washington) and Ced (Wilson)," Holmes said. "We've got a good possession receiver in Hines (Ward) who's going to get the first down and get the big catch we need. The more they can use me to stretch the field, the better it is for our offense."
Holmes will be going up against a pair of Pro Bowl cornerbacks today in Nate Clements and Walt Harris, who will match their experience against one of the league's up-and-coming receivers.
Clements, a free agent, is the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
"I have to bring my 'A' game," Holmes said. "Going up against a veteran who's been there, done that, he's going to look to take full advantage of a young guy. I've got to step up to the plate."