Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger Excited To See What WR Markus Wheaton Can Do

After having to miss a lot of playing and practice time during his rookie season due to a finger injury, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton is expected to show this offseason that he deserves to start opposite Antonio Brown in 2014.

At the conclusion of the Steelers first OTA practice of the 2014 season on Tuesday, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked if he thinks that the Oregon State product is up for that task.

“Yeah, I hope so,” said Roethlisberger. “I think he’s a competitor, he’s a guy that wants to prove that he’s a guy and can be out here, and that he can be a starter. So I’m excited to see what he can do.”

While Wheaton only managed to catch six passes for 64 yards in the 161 offensive snaps that he played in 2013, he reportedly was always asking Roethlisberger and former wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery questions throughout the season.

During the offseason, Roethlisberger worked with Wheaton and fellow young wide receivers Derek Moye and Justin Brown out in California and he explained his decision in wanting to make sure that happened.

“I wanted to take the three younger guys out there,” said Roethlisberger of the February trip out west. “Obviously I offered it to everybody, but most importantly it was him (Wheaton), Derek and Justin, just to work with them and get a feel, and get an early start.”

An early start is something that Wheaton will get this year that he didn’t get last year as he was forced to miss the 2013 offseason OTA practices due to his school being on the quarter system.

In order to push Wheaton this offseason, the Steelers signed former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore during free agency. Moore’s addition was necessary due to Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders both signing elsewhere as unrestricted free agents.

According to Tuesday reports, Wheaton was the starter opposite Brown during the first practice.

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

    Stay healthy (and thirsty) my friends

  • chris ward

    Hoping for a breakout year for Wheaton.

  • shawn

    Im high on Wheaton and he should make a big jump this year … but after looking at some tape again … Moore actually looks like a more fluid WR and more athletic to boot … course he doesnt have Wheaton’s speed … this group this year is going to be really good competition in camp … I think its the best group of WRs we’ve had in a long long time … really liking it !

  • steelster

    I agree

  • Steelers12328882

    lol no offense, but I think you’re being a bit optimistic when you call this group the best WRs we’ve had in a long time. In fact I think it’s the worst group of WRs we’ve had since… geez I don’t even know how long! Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery.

  • Jacque Strappe

    maybe I’m the only one, but I’m not overly disappointed to see Sanders go.

  • dgh57

    Believe me you’re not the only one that is not disappointed that Sanders is gone!

  • steelster

    I think shawn is talking about potential. Ike taylor was raving about wheaton last year saying he was well ahead of Wallace as a rookie and Wallace had a good rookie year. Bryant’s Clemson teammates of Watkins and Hopkins both said that Bryant might have more overall talent than them. So steeler nation has good reason to be optimistic about the future.

  • RMSteeler

    C’mon Ben, can you overcome 10 yrs of habit and get the ball out quicker? You’ve got the fastest stable of receivers you’ve ever had. Please don’t make them come back for the ball so often. BTW, please work on throwing your receivers open. Those two things are what keeps analysts from ranking you higher among QB’s. It’s a two way street between you and your receivers. You both have to learn to trust and adapt to each other. You’ve got the tools to get another SB win, and hopefully get that MVP that should ensure you make it to Canton.

  • Steelers12328882

    Yeah I assumed he was talking about potential. I’m just reminding him we’ve had some great WRs on this team lately due to the fact that we draft them so well. I have no doubt they’ll be good, but they still have a lot to prove, especially Wheaton, and even more so, Bryant.

  • Steelers12328882

    And he did say “it’s”, not it will be lol.

  • Steelers@2010

    Hmm! I don’t know about the best. I still think Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders along with Cotchery was a pretty good WR Corps. But time will time. Antonio Brown, Wheaton and Martavis Bryant sounds pretty good too. I’m not ready to crown this WR Corps over the previous group mentioned just yet though.

  • Steelers@2010

    I think Sanders under-achieved when he was here. I think he will have a breakout season with Peyton Manning as the QB. But I’m glad the Steelers didn’t throw the bank at him, he did not deserve it at all.

  • steelster

    true

  • steelster

    Sanders production will go up and deckers will go down. Sanders will be a product of the system.

  • Ike Evans

    he would be getting the ball out quicker if he didnt have to run for his life all these years as soon as he taps his back foot on his drops…evidenced by the end of last year when there was pretty decent protection the offense was pretty damn smooth (except maybe in the redzone one could argue)

  • steelster

    The protection came when they went to the no huddle. I like the short passing game because ben has to get rid of the ball quickly. Now we have all these speedy receivers lets see what they can do in open space.

  • Ike Evans

    That wasnt nearly the first time they went with no huddle nor the first time we had a bunch of speedy guys….but hopefully it wrks consistentlt this time…like u said we will see

  • Paddy

    His fingers are a problem.. again. Their receivers scare me, I think Santonio could make an impact

  • Steve

    Santonio is done. Played hurt a lot with the Jets last year. We don’t need another Veteran player sitting the bench.

  • steelster

    Did he reinjure the finger ?

  • Paddy

    No but he called them ugly, more than one

  • Paddy

    Bring him in see what’s there

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I agree with shawn i think this group have the POTENTIAL to be the best not only on our team but in the nfl BUT i have a feeling they will be used sparingly we are gonna be a more run first run second type of offense but im still optimistic

  • RMSteeler

    Ben didn’t always have an OL like the last two years. Going back 10 years, he had good and very good OL’s. Even then, he held the ball too long and got hit and sacked a lot more than he should have. He let his fast receivers out run his arm and under threw way too many. Holding onto the ball too long has always been a knock on him. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ben is great. I just think he could be greater in his final 5 or so years. Just saying old habits are hard to break. Haley’s plays are trying. It took awhile, but I think he’s buying into it. With the expected better running game this year, he should have more time anyway.

  • Ike Evans

    *looks around* you kno this is the steelers blog right? You sure youre not referring to another team? Youre a steelers fan right? Cuz ben hasnt had a good offensive line since the FIRST championship…arguably a year later then that but thats it….he won the second chip with wat is known as one of the worst offensive lines to ever win a championship…without him being who he is with that ball we may have not been able to combat that…last 2 years? Are u kidding me? Try the last 6….AT LEAST

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I’ve been saying the same thing for years. Take a look at how many short passes Peyton threw that went for huge plays just because he caught the WR right in stride. It’s not rocket science just timing. Ben can do it with this offence but has yet to do so. Let’s hope this is the year.

  • Milliken Steeler

    I think he has Brian Baldinger finger and that isnt good. That means the pinky I believe is pointing toward the ground instead of straight out and it might not heal straight.

    He says it feels good but it apparently wasn’t set right and then his fingers were broke again. That kind of boils my blood actually as he is a great looking prospect and seems to be an even better individual.

    I hope the finger works out for us.

  • Milliken Steeler

    He better, because Peyton will get in his face if he drops the ball, throws a tantrum on a bad pass and doesnt fall on a fumble like he did with us.

    Peyton won’t stand for the immaturity if he tries that in Denver.

  • steelster

    I thought the offseason surgery he had was to correct that problem but I’m not sure.

  • steelster

    I see you are a phoenix suns fan do you live in phoenix.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Reg,
    I would welcome that. I mean, ben has had to carry the team offensively for years now.
    Why NOT get an additional offensive threat or two?
    I still think the D rebuild is a priority (and so do the Steelers apparently given the way the draft went down), but I like the guys we got offensively both in FA and draft.
    Wheaton will have a HUGE year this year – AB drawing double teams giving his WR counterpart more one on ones.
    I like our WR corps, but they (not including Wheaton) are prob a year away from being real dangerous!!!

  • joed32

    Google “Torry Holt finger” if you want to see something really ugly. He played with it and is probably going to the HOF.

  • Steelers@2010

    I agree with you 100%!! If you noticed, last year when the talk of the town was about trading Big Ben, that’s when he started to turn things around. I think Big Ben has been reluctant to play the game like a traditional QB. He likes to free-lance too often. I agree with you though, the guy has all the tools to be a Top 5 QB, besides Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, I wouldn’t take another QB over him. Well, I would take a young Andrew Luck though.

  • RMSteeler

    I don’t think the Steelers brought up trading Ben. It was also said that Ben wanted to be traded. I believe that may have been true. I could see a very frustrated Ben, in the prime of his career, with a 2-6 record halfway through the year. I think that Haley calling plays that Ben KNEW would not work with what he saw on defense and not being allowed to change plays blew him up. I think that Ben went to Tomlin and possibly the Rooneys so frustrated with the play calling that he told them that if he couldn’t audible more and run the hurry up, he wanted to be traded. Totally out of frustration. I remember Ben being quoted as telling Haley to “shut up” when Ben was calling out play changes because Haley was talking to much through his headset while Ben was reading the defense. I think the Rooneys and Tomlin saw there was nothing to lose except maybe Ben and relented. I noticed Haley not being nearly involved the second half of the season while Ben called most of the plays out of the hurry up. The plays were designed by Haley, with input by Ben, but Ben was finally able to choose which play to call based on what he saw. The results were 6-2 the last half of the season and should have been at least 7-1. Manning and Brady have had the green light to call the plays most of their careers. Ben, with his experience should not have been treated like a rookie by Haley. Lesson learned by all and will carry over this season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/STEELMANIAC STEEL MANIAC

    This guy (Wheaton) should just pull a Ronnie Lott and lop that finger off because apparently, it never heals.

  • Milliken Steeler

    No Steel. Its wierd with me and my teams that I follow. I started watching sports at 11 years old in 76. I stuck with the teams that caught my eye back then. Steelers,Suns, Islanders,Yankees etc and have stuck with those teams my whole life.

    I actually live in Colorado.