When the Steelers lost both Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery to free agency last off-season, it really left a huge hole behind Antonio Brown in the on the Steelers depth chart.
Second year wideout Markus Wheaton was really the only option to step into the #2 receiver role.
Through 6 games, Wheaton has failed to impress with 24 catches on 39 targets for 277 yards and 0 touchdowns.
His most recent game was also his roughest of the year catching 4 balls for 33 yards, on 11 targets.
A big reason the Steelers offense has failed to score points this year is Antonio Brown is really the only reliable target in the passing game with Heath Miller starting to show his age.
Ryan Clark said last season that then-rookie Wheaton “is better than Michael Wallace at everything but one thing: speed. That’s it, he does everything else better.”
Part of Clark’s comments were probably sour grapes that Wallace left the team, but it’s still high praise for a rookie from a veteran.
Wheaton was regarded by many draft-niks as one of the bigger steals of the draft a couple years ago getting a good all-around receiver in the third round.
All that talent didn’t just disappear over night. Wheaton had injury issues as a rookie, and hardly saw the field at all, so what we’re seeing is a QB and receiver working on chemistry on the fly right now.
Markus Wheaton reportedly showed up early to the Steelers facility on Wednesday so that he could watch tape with Ben Roethlisberger and review every route.
I think that Wheaton has all the tools, and it’s just going to be getting on the same page as Big Ben.
The silver lining from the last Steelers game was that Wheaton was able to get open enough to be targeted by his quarterback 11 times.
As many fantasy football nerds like myself know, the 3rd season is the golden year for young receivers. Meaning, that’s typically when the light bulb goes on for them and production greatly increases.
I said many times last year I wanted to see Wheaton on the field over Emmanuel Sanders, and a big reason for that was so we could experience these sort of growing pains last year.
I expect to see Wheaton improve as the season goes on, and doing the extra work with Ben will only help his development as well as his chemistry with his Quarterback.