Steelers WR Markus Wheaton Should Benefit Greatly From OTA Practices

Just when it looked like Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton was starting to see increased playing time during his 2013 rookie season, a busted finger in the Week 4 game in London against the Minnesota Vikings set back his development. Now that he’s back healthy again, the hope is that the Oregon State product will have a huge jump in production in his second season.

While Wheaton only caught six passes for 64 yards as a rookie, it’s way too early to be down on him. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown burst onto the scene during his second season in the league after a rookie season that saw him only catch 16 passes.

While Wheaton only played 161 regular-season snaps during his rookie season, Brown only played 69 during his. In addition, Brown didn’t have the luxury of OTA practices heading into his second season thanks to the 2011 lockout. Wheaton, on the other hand, will have a full compliment of OTA practices with the first set getting underway on Tuesday. Last season, he was forced to miss those practices due to Oregon State being on the quarter system.

These upcoming OTA practices for Wheaton will be huge for him and the speed of the game should slow down for him. His head should no longer be spinning as his knowledge of the offense should allow for him to work on the finer points of his game.

Wheaton also had a great mentor in veteran Jerricho Cotchery during his rookie season and that should also help in him making a huge second-year jump. In addition, the young wide receiver reportedly was also always picking the brain of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last season.

In 2011, Brown registered 69 catches during his second season in the league and that’s a Steelers franchise record as far as sophomore wide receivers go. Being as he only played 625 snaps that year, one would think that Wheaton would have a decent shot at at least coming close to those catch numbers as long as he stays healthy.

Should Wheaton indeed make that kind of expected jump, the Steelers should be in good shape as that’s roughly the same amount of production that they lost during the offseason when Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Denver Broncos.

Steelers All-Time Top 10 Second-Year Wide Receivers By Receptions

RKPLAYERYEARAGEGGSRECYDSYPRTDYPG
1Antonio Brown20112316369110816.06269.3
2Plaxico Burress200124161666100815.27663
3Hines Ward19992316146163810.46739.9
4Mike Wallace201024161660125720.951078.6
5Louis Lipps198523161659113419.221270.9
6Santonio Holmes20072313135294218.12872.5
7J.R. Wilburn1967241405176715.04554.8
8Jeff Graham19922314104971114.51150.8
9Ron Shanklin19712314144965213.31646.6
10Lynn Swann*19752314124978115.941155.8

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • mem359

    Why is there a star next to Swann’s name?

  • Jacque Strappe

    HOF?

  • Kurt Williams

    Nice list, with the exception of JR Wilburn and Ron Shanklin, those guys went on to have good to great careers. Louie Lipps was one of my favorites, too bad the qb play in those years wasn’t that great.

  • Steelers@2010

    I agree the kid should benefit from the OTA’s; I just hope he can sty healthy, I think he has a great deal of potential. When you look at the potential top three WR’s – Antonio Brow, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant, two things come to mind. Speed and Quickness. I think this new corps of WR’s has the potential to be better than the previous three.

  • blue

    Wheaton , step it up or get bypassed on depth chart.

  • SfSteeler

    60-900-5

  • Dan

    If he does have talent and can execute, this should be a good year to let it show. I don’t think any of the competition will burry him if he is the man. The coaches should pretty much know what they have in Heyward-Bey and Moore. There’s always headwinds against a rookie WR getting much time with the first team. The cards are stacked in Wheatons favor. Hope he shines.