Steelers Rookie WR Markus Wheaton Shows Urgency During First Training Camp Practice

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Richard Mann was forced to long distance tutor rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton over the course of the offseason due to the Oregon State product being unable to practice with the team because of the league graduation rules. According to Will Graves of the Associated Press, Wheaton was a great pupil as the Steelers third-round draft pick had a good first day of training camp practice on Saturday.

According to Graves, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told Wheaton he liked his urgency following a fingertip catch that took place during the seven-on-seven portion of practice.

Mann, who is in his first season with Steelers, is also impressed with his new receiver. Graves reports that both Mann and Wheaton spent time together Friday night to go over a few things for him to remember on Saturday and the results of that meeting were good.

“He remembered it, just about everything,” Mann said. “He wasn\’t perfect, but he was trying.”

When Wheaton was drafted back in April, a few scouts said they think he has the smarts and route running ability of Hines Ward and the speed of former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace. Wheaton said on Friday he hadn\’t heard that before and instead took the humble approach when he said all he\’s focused on is making the team out of training camp.

So what about that speed? Mann said he\’s not ready to say Wheaton is as fast as Wallace, but he did say he\’s “fast enough.”

“Give me a guy like Markus that\’s got good speed, I can give him technique and fundamentals that get him over,” Mann said. “You don\’t have to be a burner burner to have speed.”

Now, we are only talking about one practice so far, but the kind of praise that an old coach such as Mann handed out on Saturday probably doesn\’t come easy. Mann is known for being a coach that insist on good technique, so there is a lot of teaching yet to be done with Wheaton as far as that goes and it\’s evident on his college tape.

Even quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had good things to say about the young wide receiver following Saturday\’s practice.

“He looked good. Obviously, at times, he looks like a rookie,” said Roethlisberger. “There are some things that I try and help him with and that I know the receivers are helping him with. If I see something I try and talk to him about what I expect from him. I think he looked really good. I think he had his typical first day jitters, but I see a lot of promise in him.”

When you go back and listen to all the interviews that Wheaton has done over the years, however, it\’s very easy to tell that he is a bright kid. With that being said, it\’s not surprising to hear that he\’s easily grasping the playbook, blocking assignments and route trees.

Wheaton likely has a ways to go before he unseats Jerricho Cotchery as the third wide receiver, but he shouldn\’t have any problem “burning” past Plaxico Burress during the preseason. At some point during the 2013 season, Wheaton will be the third wide receiver on the field and while that might not happen by the time the season opener rolls around, it\’s sure to happen by mid season. In other words, so far, so good.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • VaDave

    Cool Beans mon! This is one of our picks that I’m really excited about. I agree, he’s going to be on the field sooner than later.

  • dgh57

    Wheaton may not have the speed Wallace had but I bet it’s close enough! With the added benefit of Wheaton(unlike Wallace) will have his mind focused on the task at hand. I have a feeling he’ll have us forgetting about Wallace by mid season!

  • Madi

    I know he’s taking Wallace’s spot on the roster, but I hate all the comparisons to him. He’s much closer to Antonio Brown than Wallace. Glad to hear he’s off to a good start.

  • hergieburbur

    Mann is right, the speed of Wallace is nice, but I would much rather have route running and guts than pure speed.

  • Matt Searls

    I wonder what Mann told him to remember. what id do to sit in on those meetings

  • dgh57

    Yes, like you say speed isn’t everything. I’ll also take a guy with quickness to gain separation, good hands, and that same quickness to get yards after the catch. Wheaton seems to fit that.

  • Douglas Andrews

    We seem to forget sometimes that Wallace was never the best route runner, had terrible footwork, and wasn’t a combat catcher. Speed is always a big plus but Jerry Rice came into the league running a 4.5-4.6 40. Speed is one thing but being a complete receiver with good speed is another. Hopefully Wheaton becomes a complete receiver with good speed.

  • 2443scott

    speed dont make good route running or does it make you first downs ..good speed and routes and hands makes first downs and scores and eat up clock..while other team sits on bench as time runs out …thats one thing wallace couldnt do

  • MexSteeler

    I’ll take a Hines Ward type it player over a Wallace any day! GO STEELERS!