The Big Breakdown- WIDE RECEIVER and TIGHT END

In honor of the start of Camp Tomlin 2010, I will be doing a position by position breakdown of the 2010-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers.

I will address three factors: An introduction, the depth chart, and then any battles for spots going on within that position.

Today is part 2, where we will be turning to:

Wide Receiver and Tight End

Another position that was hit hard in the offseason. With the departure of Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes and the loss of Limas Sweed to a season-ending injury, the Steelers were left in a bit of a bind. They signed former Steeler Antwaan Randle El, Arnaz Battle and drafted Emmanuel Sanders with their third pick in the NFL Draft.

The Steelers have a problem at receiver. They have no receiver that will get playing time over 6’0″ tall. If the Steelers don’t run the ball well around the goal line, scoring could become a huge problem.

On the plus-side, the Steelers saw the emergence of Mike Wallace last season, who enabled the offense to stretch the field and open up some more options for Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers are pretty solid at Tight End with Heath Miller leading the way. Miller has become one of the best all-around tight ends in football and is a great bail-out option for Roethlisberger.

David Johnson, Sean McHugh and Matt Spaeth fill out the rest of the field. A respectable group.

Time for the

Depth Chart- Receivers

1. Hines Ward

Hines Ward has been a consistent performer for years. He’s going to be a Steeler for life and still has a lot left in the tank. He had a very productive season a year ago and will have to perform just as well this year with the absence of Santonio Holmes. If Hines can stay healthy and continue to play through the nagging injuries that have plagued him the last couple of years, he should be able to continue to be the most physical receiver in football.

2. Mike Wallace

Last season, Mike Wallace came out of nowhere to be the Steelers solid third receiver. His unbelievable speed enabled the Steelers to stretch the field and open up the offense. His big-play ability was a perfect replacement for the departed Nate Washington and could be a replacement for Santonio Holmes. He is going to be thrown into the first or second receiver spot and will see his playing time enhanced greatly this year. Some could argue that he is one the most important players this coming season.

3. Antwaan Randle El

Randle El is back and ready to step in as the third receiver. He has been stuck in Washington with a stagnant Redskins offense the last couple of seasons and should provide a nice option for the Steelers to get back to some trickery that was so crucial in the Super Bowl XL run. While El won’t be putting up huge numbers, he still has some game left in him and can be a playmaker. The thought of he and Hines Ward, mixed with the possibility of Dennis Dixon running a Wildcat-esque offense this season could cause some headaches for Steelers opponents.

4. Emmanuel Sanders

Well, he can kind of freestyle. Geeze. He’s a speedy, smaller receiver. He was a bit of an unknown coming in, after being selected with the third pick in the NFL Draft. This rookie from Southern Methodist could see a role similar to what Mike Wallace went through last season. If a receiver goes down with injury or fails to perform, he could have a big part in the Steelers offense.

4. Arnaz Battle

5. Antonio Brown

Battle is mud. I’ve never been to impressed with him. His best season was in 2006 and last year he had five receptions in 15 games. Brown is a rookie from Central Michigan. Honestly, I don’t know much of him because he went to Central Michigan. I do know that he returned kicks in college and could find a spot on special teams if Battle doesn’t show up.

The Battle

Nothing too huge. The depth chart seems about set. Ward is the #1, Wallace is the #2. Randle El is the #3 and Sanders is the #4. Expect those guys to be the four receivers in the lineup Sundays. If Sanders does well, he could push Randle El for the third spot, but El’s experience should win out this season. If the Steelers decide to go with a 5-receiver lineup, I expect them to go with Battle initially. He shouldn’t be much of a factor though in the offense and will compete weekly with Brown for the nod as #5.

……………………

Depth Chart- Tight End

1. Heath Miller

Miller is never going to be a Dallas Clark or Antonio Gates. He isn’t going to lead the team in receptions but could be third in receptions. He isn’t the most dominating run blocker, but he is going to do a solid job. He’s just a nice tight end that has, in my opinion, become one of the most underrated players in the League.

2. Matt Spaeth

3. David Johnson

4. Sean McHugh

Yeah, backup Tight Ends. You want a picture or Youtube video of them? Johnson saw some time at Full Back, so had McHugh. There was a report the other night that McHugh is out for the season on NFL Network, but I haven’t heard anything since. All three of these guys are just as good as the other, with Spaeth probably having the edge in the group. One of these tight ends though will not be dressing on Sundays, that’s for sure.

The Battle

The true battle.

“Dey rapin’ errbody out herrrre.”

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