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Make Or Break Time For Sweed

By Joseph Pucciarella

AT 6-4 and 220 pounds, Limas Sweed fits the mold of a dangerous receiver. He’s tall, physical, and fast. He was drafted in 2008 in the 2nd round as one of the most coveted receivers in that draft. He was taken just four picks after Desean Jackson, and was considered by many to be a first round talent. However, he fell to Pittsburgh because of a foot injury that lowered his draft hype; a pick at the time that was considered by many to be a steal.

The outside perception of Sweed is that he’s a bust. Steelers fans not following too closely may have even forgotten about the former Texas standout. Forget the perception, along with the fact that Limas only has 7 career receptions for 69 yards. What fans should focus on is that the Steelers front office has held onto a seemingly injured plagued wide out with 7 career receptions in three years, whom many are quick to write off as a disappointing bust.

So why has the front office held on for so long? Look at the film. Not the NFL film, but his Texas game film. Limas was a play-making phenom, with an impressive highlight reel, including a memorable game-winning touchdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. That’s one difficult catch that many recall, but do an Internet search for “Limas Sweed Highlight Reel.” In that footage you’ll see a receiver Steeler Nation was buzzing about just three years ago, and you will 100% understand the hype.

Perhaps you’ll recall the rumors about Limas over the past two seasons; he’s too hard on himself, he has an illness, he’s battling depression, etc. No matter what has been said, or what Limas has gone through, someone in this organization holds on to hope and believes in this kid. They believe in his 1900 plus receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns while at Texas. They have confidence that somewhere underneath the last three season’s tribulations lies a big play making receiver.

Limas needs the support, and fans should root for him. They should want to see Limas turn into the receiver we all wanted him to be. We wanted him to make us forget Plax. On the heels of all the Plax hype, right now is the perfect time to make us forget again.

“I’m that guy.” Said Sweed regarding the tall receiver role, during the Steelers courting of Plaxico Burress last week.

This truly is it. This is Limas’ last shot. It’s a make or break year. Sure he’s not where any coach would want their third year receiver to be. He’s running as a gunner on special teams in training camp, and often waits for reps behind younger players. However, he proceeds quietly doing what the coaching staff asks.

This is his opportunity; Hines Ward is temporarily on PUP, and Emmanuel Sanders is still battling a foot injury he suffered in Super Bowl 45. With that being said he’ll have opportunity in the coming weeks. If Limas doesn’t shine in the first few pre-season games, he’ll fade out; sooner rather than later. We’ll remember Limas as a young hopeful who struggled, and ultimately failed. If that happens, the only good memory we’ll hang onto is Limas blowing up Corey Ivy of the Ravens a few seasons ago. Here’s to hoping his story goes the other way, and Sweed becomes a feel good story for 2011.

You can follow Joe on Twitter at @Joseph18James

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