The Steelers’ Markus Wheaton entered last week’s season opener in New England knowing he could be called upon to make big plays. With the Bill Belichick-Patriots famous for taking top players away from the offense, Wheaton was expected to pick up the load from a limited Antonio Brown.
While it didn’t unfold that way because Brown proved just how good he was with nine receptions, 133 yards and a score, Wheaton did collect 55 yards on three receptions. One of those was a brilliant, sideline catch in which he resembled a ballet dancer tip-toeing the sideline.
I’m starting to think that Markus Wheaton might just be emerging in a capacity where little was probably expected of him and that’s in the red zone. With so much focus on Brown and Heath Miller as well Martavis Bryant when he returns, Wheaton has proven through the preseason and again in the opener that he is more than just a “another” option.
In the preseason, Wheaton had just four receptions but one went for a touchdown inside the red zone and he also collected a two-point conversion as well. Both of those scores were perfect examples of his effectiveness down where it matters. What I personally liked about both of those plays, as well as the two-point conversion he picked up against the Patriots was that he kept working.
Ben Roethlisberger was on the move each time and because Wheaton didn’t give up on the play, he got himself open. At a time when most teams are looking to taller, more athletic options down in red zone, its nice to see a guy like Wheaton flourish. With the Steelers set to face some stiff competition over the the next few weeks without Bryant and one more without Le’Veon Bell, Wheaton picking up the slack would be tremendous sight for Steelers’ fans.