Wide receiver Plaxico Burress certainly isn\’t the same player that he was when he left Pittsburgh visa free agency several years ago, but it doesn\’t mean that he still cant help the offense in the area where they need it the most – the red zone.
Last season when Burress was with the New York Jets he was targeted 19 times in the red zone where he caught 10 of those passes for 7 touchdowns. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez threw 21 touchdowns in total inside the red zone last season, so Burress accounted for a third of them.
So far this season for the Steelers it is tight end Heath Miller who is easily leading the team in red zone touchdown receptions with 6, and receptions with 11. Wide receiver Mike Wallace is second on the team with 8 red zone receptions with 2 of them resulting in touchdowns.
Those two players combine to account for 19 of the Steelers 29 receptions inside the red zone and 8 of the 12 red zone passing touchdown receptions. No other player on the Steelers roster has more than 2 red zone receptions heading into the game Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Burress told SiriusXM NFL Radio just after he signed on Tuesday that offensive coordinator Todd Haley was initially bringing him up to speed on the red zone package that he will mostly play in, so don\’t expect to see him get too many snaps on Sunday outside that area of the field, especially if wide receiver Antonio Brown is able to play after missing the last two games with a left high ankle sprain.
As Burress gets better acclimated with the offense his snaps might increase ever so slightly while Jerricho Cotchery is sidelined with his injured ribs. Once Cotchery returns, Burress might just be a red zone only player.
The size of Burress, along with his ability to provide a large catch radius, should take some pressure off of both Wallace and Miller inside the red zone, which will hopefully lead to an increase in the Steelers red zone percentage, which currently sits at under 50% heading into the game Sunday.
2012 Steelers Passing Stats Inside The Red Zone