During his 15 minute interview Thursday at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked to talk about the development of wide receiver Markus Wheaton, who the team drafted last year in the third-round.
“Markus Wheaton got setback last year,” said Colbert. “He came in and worked his way in. First, he couldn’t be with us in the OTAs, because of his school commitment, an agreement we have with the colleges. So we didn’t get him until the tail end of the OTAs in June.
“So he came in behind, he worked his way into the rotation and then broke a finger. Got healed through that finger, worked his way back in and broke another finger. So it was just a medical frustration for him but he’s had some offseason surgeries to correct that further and were hoping he has a nice year next year.”
Wheaton only caught six passes for 64 yards in 12 games last season as a rookie. In the 161 offensive snaps that he played over the course of the season, 49 of them came in the Week 11 game against the Detroit Lions thanks to starter Emmanuel Sanders having to leave the game early with an injury.
Had Wheaton not mangled his finger in the Week 4 game against the Minnesota Vikings over in London, he likely would have seen the field a lot more. Instead, that injury forced him to miss four weeks of valuable practice time and his playing time suffered as a result.
It’s good to hear that the surgeries are now behind Wheaton and we know he’s already back catching passes as he worked out recently with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a few of the other younger Steelers wide receivers out in Southern California.
With the Steelers expected to lose Sanders in free agency this offseason, a lot will be expected from Wheaton in 2014, who will now have a full offseason to prepare.