Steelers Wide Receiver Justin Brown Getting Noticed

Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver Justin Brown spent his rookie season on the practice squad, losing out to Derek Moye for the last roster spot at the position to replace Plaxico Burress, whose season ended early in training camp.

But the team lost both Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery in free agency, opening up some spots on the depth chart. Unfortunately for Brown, he will be competing with rookie Martavis Bryant and free agent acquisitions Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey for one of those positions.

Bryant and Moore would appear to be virtual locks to make the roster, and with the addition of Dri Archer, it would be surprising if the Steelers carry more than five receivers this year.

So it seems, then, that if Brown wishes to take the next step in year two and make the roster, he’ll have to beat out Moye and Heyward-Bey. But some think he has a good shot, at least at this point during the offseason.

Yesterday, I talked about how Mark Kaboly had spoken positively about Heyward-Bey and his versatility and experience. But right after that, he followed it with this bit about the former sixth-round draft pick, who’s just as tall as the veteran receiver:

He reminds me of what I saw from Derek Moye last year. If you recall, I was a little bit on the Derek Moye bandwagon last year around this time and in training camp. That was for the fact that he just kept showing up. He kept showing up, and that seems like what Justin Brown is doing this year.

There were positive reports of Brown’s progress from last season as he participated on the scout team, and he also supposedly looked sharp when Ben Roethlisberger brought the young receivers out for a throwing session earlier this year.

Now he continues to look good during the first few OTA sessions, and people are starting to think he has a chance. Kaboly concluded:

“He’s looking really good. I don’t know if there’s a spot for him quite yet, but maybe he is a guy that pushes Darrius Heyward-Bey out the door”.

Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider also took notice of the second-year man, and even noted that he has him looking like the fifth receiver right now in the early goings of the offseason workouts.

So, too, does Dale Lolley, who gave his endorsement of Brown on his blog, saying that he “has the inside track on the fifth wide receiver spot”.

Being so far down on the depth chart, of course, Brown will have to show that he can contribute more on special teams than he displayed during his first preseason. If I recall correctly, he was penalized early on, and then didn’t receive much time on the special teams units.

The preseason should be fun to watch this year to see how the wide receiver depth chart is established. With an interesting mixture of young players and new veterans, the position is quite unsettled, and it’s hard to get a read on how good or bad the unit will be until we see them on the field.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • steeltown

    This is great news.. regardless of who makes the 53man roster you always want good competition. Someone might suffer injury so you want your bottom guys like J.Brown, Moye and DHB playing well and striving for greatness

  • dkoy85

    I knew it was only a matter of time for him to start “showing up” on a more consistent basis. I know Moye won the spot through preseason, but I thought Brown looked better in training camp. I’ve been saying I think Brown is the better player, and it looks like he is starting to prove it. I hope he carries it through training camp!

    Even if Heyward-Bey wins the spot, Brown still has PS eligibility and could make the team at some point in the season.

  • joed32

    Totally agree, I thought Brown was the better over all receiver in pre-season last year but they went with Moye. Maybe because he was taller?

  • shawn

    Couldnt agree with you more ! It has been obvious to me from DAY 1 that he was the better receiver than Moye & unlike some that dogged us drafting him … i thought he was a quality pick for the 6th round that has potential as a Bigger Possession type of WR …. definitely good news so far !

  • Paddy

    It comes down to special teams, that’s where DHB has it over he and Moye

  • CW

    More likely Moye had some excellent special teams plays and had that great post Landry Jones interception run down tackle to prevent a pick six.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    5 WR’s isn’t a reason to get rid of a good player in favor of a bad one. If Brown and Bey both look really good you have to keep 6 or, god forbid, trade someone.

  • D.j. Hoy

    I was pulling for him last year over Moye. The dude can high-point the ball extremely well and has amazing body control. I would keep him over DHB and Moye.

  • D.j. Hoy

    I don’t think DHB returns kicks or punts. Brown was their punt returner at Oklahoma, so it seems that he is the one with the edge.

  • dgh57

    Good, this is what I want to hear! J. Brown has plenty of STs experience with 71 career punt returns and if you’re looking for a backup to Archer and to relieve the other Brown of those duties JB may be the guy! But he needs to be given the chance he can do it(punt returns)which is something he wasn’t given last preseason.

  • Kevin Reich

    He’s a gunner on punt coverage.


    When you start doing the math, It’s tough to shave the final few to reach 53…moving to Archer’s # to WR makes me think 5 are safe…6 would be a stretch unless they only keep 3 TEs….imo H-Bey is going to have to shine early…and Moye can’t drop anything to make it if Brown is looking strong enough to stick this yr.

  • joed32

    You’re exactly right!

  • steeltown

    I hope we only keep 3TEs this year, that would mean Heath and Spaeth are healthy heading into the season. Im hoping Blanchflower lands the 3rd spot and sign a practice squad TE (maybe Eric Waters)

  • Paddy

    And a good one

  • SfSteeler

    hope that 3 way fight for the 5th WR spot catches all eyes and keeps all 90 hungry at this stage!

  • Riverstko

    They should go with five WRs Brown would help the team. Use Archer rb/wr in the backfield. They are many RBs in the nfl catching rushing doing trick plays out the backfield.