Markus Wheaton’s Professional Approach Impresses Mike Tomlin

If the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is going to have success in 2014, second-year wide receiver Markus Wheaton is going to have to show that he can handle the No. 2 wide receiver spot. So far during training camp he’s done just that and head coach Mike Tomlin appears to be happy with his progress.

“He’s working really hard, I like his approach to it,” said Tomlin after Sunday’s practice of the Oregon State product. “He’s a detail guy. I see him not only working out here before and after, but into the evening. He’s just taking a really professional approach. I think he understands what we expect and what we need from him, and the gravity of it.”

The gravity of it is that the Steelers need Wheaton to step up and replace the production that they lost during the offseason when they chose not to re-sign wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The 67 receptions that Sanders recorded last season might not seem like a big number to achieve, but it is when you consider that Wheaton only had six during his rookie season, which was slowed because of a finger injury.

Until Wheaton starts to produce and earns the respect from opposing defenses, fellow starting wide receiver Antonio Brown knows that he will receive a lot of attention.

“Yeah, I’m definitely a marked man,” Brown said recently about the upcoming season, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Veteran Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor has worked against Wheaton for nearly two full training camps now and he believes the young wide receiver has a chance to make a name for himself pretty quick in 2014.

“He can be that guy that teams look at in the first four games and are like, ‘Who is that dude running past people?’ ” Taylor recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Wheaton’s current league-wide anonymity. “After those first four games, they’re like, ‘OK, we know who he is now.’ ”

In order to achieve that, Taylor thinks consistency is the key in addition to having the same mentality of a few other players on the roster.

“He’s got to have that Antonio Brown mentality, just like I feel Cortez Allen has to have that Ike Taylor mentality,” said Taylor. “You can’t care about anything but that person trying to beat you. That’s only thing I care about, and 10 other guys relying on me.”

As for Wheaton, himself, he just wants to do one thing.

“I just want to be on the field and make plays for my team,” Wheaton said.

Wheaton’s already doing that in training camp and next weekend he’ll get an opportunity to show how he’s progressed in the Steelers first preseason game against the New York Giants. We’ll get to see if that professional approach of his has indeed paid off.

  • William Weaver

    The key to our offense this year. His level of play can sink or raise that entire side of the ball.

  • mem359

    Reaching 64 receptions is averaging 4 per game for 16 games.

    It still feels surprising that AB is the only receiver in league history to have at least 5 receptions / 50 yards for all 16 season games.

  • steeltown

    I read an interview/article said Wheaton has stayed as late as 1AM studying film after practices, he said he’s fallen asleep before. Love it! If he stays healthy the sky is the limit. Teams will gear towards AB and Le’Veon this year but Miller, Wheaton and Moore should get plenty of opportunities.

  • PA2AK

    Aside from where the OL ends up…looks like we will see a nice, healthy balance of talent at all positions.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    That position is far too deep to consider Wheaton a key to anything.

    I don’t think we would see much if any dropoff going another spot or two down the depth chart.

  • johnhoien

    Got to love that team spirit.

  • cencalsteeler

    This is exactly what I was asking Alex to keep an eye on for us. Who’s staying late or coming in early and putting in the extra work. Coaches take notice of this extra effort as Tomlin has noticed in Wheaton. If Adams is following Wheatons path, then I am willing to patient. If he is not putting in the extra work to improve and just hitting the showers, I don’t have much hope for him. Curious if Bryant is staying after as well.

  • William Weaver

    I defniately disagree with you but that is ok. Nothing outside of AB and Moore are to be trusted as in proven. Behind Wheaton is what? Optimism at best. Bryant hasn’t even taken a pre-season snap and justin couldn’t crack the 53 last year. Moore by the way was let walk by the saints because they had better options. Wheaton is important and his success, I feel, is vital.

  • Andrew Grigsby

    Great point, a big worry for me with the offense. AB will see a lot of double coverage. Have to make plays on the other side for sure.