Wide receiver Markus Wheaton is the only Pittsburgh Steelers rookie that isn\'t allowed to participate in the 2013 OTA sessions because of an NFL rule that prohibits rookies from doing so before their college final exams are completed. On Wednesday, veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery weighed in on what the Oregon State product is missing by not being able to participate in the sessions.
"Well, this process is huge in the offseason, but we\'ll be able to catch him up," said Cotchery, who is entering his third season with the Steelers. "But you can never get these reps back. Even these reps are valuable to veterans. So, we\'ll just catch him up, and hopefully he\'ll hit the ground running once he gets here."
Wheaton was able to attend the Steelers rookie camp immediately following the draft, and according to general manager Kevin Colbert, the hope is he\'ll be able to attend the Steelers mandatory mini camp next month, so he can catch up on what he\'s missed prior to training camp getting underway.
"His graduation date is early in June, and if he can show progress - or to the fact that he is on time, sometimes the school will allow him - they would say he satisfied his means," said Colbert about Wheaton back in early May. "But usually they have to actually, if they are enrolled in school, or even if they\'re not enrolled in school, if their school is still in session, they can\'t report until after the last day of finals."
The Steelers mandatory mini camp takes place June 11-13 while Oregon State has June 10–14 listed as the week of their final exams. We will have to see how it ultimately plays out, but hopefully the school says Wheaton has satisfied his means so that he can attend.
As far the other young wide receivers go that are able to participate in the OTA sessions, Cotchery says that they are all working pretty hard.
"They\'re taking everything in that the coaches are teaching them, and they\'re trying to ask the veteran guys about ways that they can get better," said Cotchery. "So it\'s been good."
So what kind of tips is the 30-year-old Cotchery giving the younger players who are gunning for his job?
"Whatever they ask - as far as footwork, plays, all of those things," said Cotchery. "How you take care of your body and things of that nature. You try to help them out in any way that you can. You know that the young guys are looking to take the veterans spots, but at the end of the day, this for the betterment of the team."