Veteran wide receiver Plaxico Burress was signed late in November last season due to the injuries suffered by both Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery and because of that it took him a while to get into football shape and learn the offense.
The Steelers re-signed Burress to a one-year deal at the start of free agency this past offseason and the former first-round draft said last week during the mandatory mini camp in an interview with DVE Radio that he is grateful for the opportunity to return for another season, and even more grateful that he has time to prepare properly for 2013.
“For me its all about getting back into football shape,” said Burress. “Understanding the coverages and get a grasp of the offense. Knowing the signals, knowing the calls at the line of scrimmage, so I\’m not at the line of scrimmage guessing now. I know exactly what I got to do, but for me its all about getting back in football shape.”
Burress, who also said it that it takes him nine or ten weeks to get into football shape, didn\’t have much of a role once he was signed last season as he only played in four games total to the tune of 34 snaps. This year, however, he knows exactly what his role will be.
“My job on the backside is just to beat one-on-one coverage,” said Burress. “Get down into the red-zone area, beat one-on-one on a consistent basis and draw some double coverage and give the other guys one-on-one. So I pretty much know what my role is going to be, and I just got to go out and fulfill it.”
One of the reasons that Burress was re-signed is because wide receiver Mike Wallace signed with the Miami Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent during the offseason. Burress was asked what it means to lose a player like Wallace, and his lengthy response included him praising the other top three wide receivers on the Steelers roster.
“Mike is a special talent, and he\’s a guy that can really get up and down the football field,” Burress said. “I think he\’s going to have some great years ahead of him, but for the group here, we have everything that we need. When you look at Antonio Brown, I think he\’s really going to be one of the most feared receivers in the league this year, and I\’m going to help him out as much as I possibly can.
“Emmanuel [Sanders] is going into his first year as a starting receiver, so he\’s going to be able to get into a groove now that he\’s a starter. He\’s going to be out there all the time. When you\’re out there all the time seeing yourself as a success, you play with a different confidence, and you can kind of see that from him everyday that he knows that he can play at a high level in this league and go out and make plays.
“As far Jerricho [Cotchery] he\’s just going to be Mr. Consistent. He\’s going to make the tough catches for us. Get open when he gets that one-one-one coverage across the middle and myself, I\’m just going to be the guy, Mr. Versatility. Just put me anywhere and I\’ll just go out and do what I can do.”
Burress will turn 36 years of age in August and just so happens to be the only player on the Steelers roster that played a game at Three Rivers Stadium. Should he wind up making the 53 man roster out of training camp he will more than likely be the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart until rookie Markus Wheaton is up to speed and ready to contribute. Burress doesn\’t care about that one bit; however, as he\’s just thankful to be back where he started his NFL career 13 years ago.
“It\’s a great opportunity for me to spread my knowledge among the young guys like Antonio and Emmanuel and Jerricho and just watch these young guys blossom as elite receivers, and I think they\’re really going to be a group that\’s going to be recognized this year,” said Burress.