"From what I saw on tape, I think we got a guy that needs some work but is a great athlete. He has good speed and can take the top off of the coverage. He’s a guy who can track the ball down field very well. He has some problems straight ahead catching a football but that’s why we have drills. With a chance to coach him up, we feel like we can make that better. The thing that you can’t coach up is his athleticism."
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown didn’t report to the start of the team’s offseason conditioning work along with his teammates and his absence was tied to a report that he was looking for a new contract and mulling an extended absence that could lead him to miss mandatory work at both minicamp and training camp. Brown chimed in later in the week to say that he was hanging out with his new child and was looking forward to getting back to work with the team.
The wait for his return to the team’s facility wasn’t a particularly long one. The Steelers posted some pictures from Monday’s workout session and Brown is among the featured players.
There was a report that Brown was planning to hold out for a new contract, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Counting the playoffs, Brown has caught at least five passes and/or a touchdown in 38 straight games. He followed up a #3 finish in PPR formats in 2013 with a #1 finish (in both PPR and standard formats) last season. He’s an extremely safe pick in the first round of PPR drafts and is currently the first receiver off the board in early best ball drafts.
Brown has three years remaining on his current contract which will pay him an average of $7.65 million per season. Holdouts are never good, so this is a situation to monitor this offseason. Brown was the #1 receiver in PPR formats in 2014 after finishing #3 the year before.
Friday, April 10, 2015, 4:32pm
Stature stands in the way of Cooks being perceived as a No. 1-type wide receiver in the NFL. Not many true No. 1 wideouts are 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds.
Yet Cooks needs to be that primary pass catcher with the Saints losing Kenny Stills in a trade to Miami and Marques Colston's best days behind him. Cooks only turns 22 in September and missed the last six games last season with a hand injury. Cooks possesses the tools to become the guy.
As the author points out, those are lofty expectations for Cooks. But we've all seen Steve Smith become a Pro Bowler as a No. 1 wide receiver for Carolina for several seasons. Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown is the latest example leading the NFL in catches and yards last season, the story adds. Cooks said this offseason how he's striving to emulate Brown. With no more Stills and Jimmy Graham, the Saints hope and need Cooks to quickly develop into their top option. This seems to be good news for his fantasy value heading into 2015.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who pushed hard for the Steelers to draft Bryant last year, called what Bryant was able to do during the second half of last season a “big thing” during a 30-minute Steelers Nation Unite ‘Weekly Huddle’ fan forum session on Wednesday.
“We are looking for him to come in and make a push against Markus Wheaton for that No. 2 spot and continue give us big-time production, specifically in the red area where a big target like that can make a big impact,” Haley said.
“When young guys come in at the receiver position and contribute early like he did, it is a big thing,” Haley said. “He took a lot of pressure off Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton … he really had a big impact on our offense. He is a guy we are going to work real hard throughout the offseason and, like all young players, he should make progress from year one to year two.”
Bryant averaged 2.8 catches for 56 yards and 0.82 TD in the final 11 games of the season (including a 5-61-1 outing against Baltimore in the playoffs). Thanks to the incredible touchdown rate, those are high-end WR2 numbers in standard formats and solid WR2 numbers in PPR. What's more, he didn't play 60 percent of the snaps until the postseason, so there's upside here from a playing time standpoint. If he earns a starting role this offseason -- and it looks like he will -- he’ll be a middle round pick in 2015 fantasy drafts.
I was convinced Gordon would come off his suspension eager and determined to prove to his teammates and fans that he had dedicated himself to coming back ready to contribute. It looked that way against Atlanta, but it didn’t in the past six quarters against Buffalo and Indianapolis.
Some could put this on the quarterback. I don’t. Gordon has seemed confused and lackadaisical. By the coach’s admission, Gordon has not gone all-out on some balls. He missed some key catches that great receivers make. The fact that it didn’t happen in the first three games is more than disappointing. His pride and, perhaps, the presence of Johnny Manziel are the only intangibles to grab onto to trust he improves.
Gordon has a tough matchup with the Bengals, who are #2 in WR aFPA, but both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant went over the 100-yard mark against Cincinnati last week. It's tough to bench Gordon given his considerable talent, but the facts remain -- he hasn't looked very good in the last two games and he's undergoing a change at quarterback. Manziel may very well turn out to be a good thing for Gordon, but there's no guarantee that he's going to be any better at delivering the ball than Brian Hoyer. (In fairness, it would be tough for Manziel to play worse than Hoyer has the past few games.)
Saturday, December 6, 2014, 7:15pm
When the rookie receiver was disappointed in being deactivated for the first six games of his pro career, he went to Brown for advice. When he made a splash immediately upon seeing the field, Bryant recognized the comparisons to Brown.
So now that he's experiencing the first slump of his short career, Bryant, you guessed it, is asking Brown where to go from here. Bryant is doing everything he can to emulate Brown. Opposing defenses indicate he's proving to be a reasonable — if young — facsimile.
"They're treating me like a little 'AB' now," Bryant said Thursday. "So I'm just really following him, trying to do what he does. He just says you've got to outwork them. Double-team or not, you've got to go out and execute your plays. I'm just working hard, trying to get better."
Bryant's breakout onto the NFL scene has slowed. After six touchdown receptions — at least one in each game — over the first four games of his career, the capricious, 6-foot-4, 22-year-old has had just three catches for 34 yards and no TDs over his past two games.
Monday, October 13, 2014, 9:49am
Roethlisberger barely overthrew a wide-open Wheaton in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Earlier in a game that the Steelers actually controlled through the first 15 minutes, Roethlisberger fired a pass that Wheaton wasn’t ready for on a critical third down inside the Browns' 10-yard line.
Roethlisberger apparently expected to Wheaton to snap his head around sooner. That Wheaton looked surprised to see the ball coming his way spoke volumes about how alarmingly lacking the Steelers have been when it comes to details, something that goes straight to the top of the coaching staff.
The two don't seem to be on the same page and it was again Antonio Brown who went over 100 yards with a TD, even seeing a lot of time against Browns stud CB Joe Haden. Steeler WRs have historically put up fantasy-worthy numbers over the years but so far Wheaton hasn't had more than 60 yards receiving in a game since Week 1.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 10:21am
There continues to be no splitting of carries at RB for the Steelers. It's the second-straight week Bell has dominated snaps. At this point, consider Blount just a handcuff who will steal an in-close TD from time to time.
The Steelers also used mostly 3 WR sets in the game, trailing most of it: Markus Wheaton (58), Justin Brown (55) and Antonio Brown (52). Antonio Brown missed some time while getting checked for a concussion but did return. Justin Brown finished with just one catch for six yards while Wheaton's line was 5-38-0.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 7:02pm
Steelers WR Antonio Brown (not injury related, probable) practiced fully Wednesday. Brown is in for a Thursday night matchup against the Ravens.
Friday, September 5, 2014, 5:45pm
Steelers WR Lance Moore (groin, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 1. With Moore out, look for a few extra targets for Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, and more two-TE sets with Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth.
Friday, September 5, 2014, 12:40pm
With Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden expected to shadow Antonio Brown's every move, Steelers' No. 2 receiver Markus Wheaton could get a lot of balls thrown his way in Week 1. The Browns likely will line up rookie Justin Gilbert, and he could be vulnerable to the kind of double-move that resulted in Wheaton's best play -- which went for a touchdown -- in the preseason. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger loves Wheaton, and he could look for the 2013 third-round pick early and often against the Browns.
It's tough to start a relative unknown in Week 1, but Wheaton may be worth it for owners looking for a WR3/flex to fill out their starting lineup.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that the team will use Brown as a punt returner this season as well. There was some thought that the addition of the speedy Dri Archer in the draft would lead to a change in roles for Brown, but Tomlin said that Archer will only be an option for the team alongside Brown.
As the story points out, that announcement naturally leads to thoughts about the injury risk that Brown will take on by expanding his portfolio, but Tomlin said that the team won’t live in fear of injury when it comes to deploying a player they believe can help them. Brown is again poised for a huge season as one of the top fantasy WRs you don't have to draft in the first round. Brown is ranked 8th this week among our WRs but will likely see a lot of Brown's corner Joe Haden who is one of the best in the business.
Wide receiver Martavis Bryant might be looking at the equivalent of a redshirt in his first NFL season.
Bryant left the Steelers’ final preseason game early Thursday night with an A/C sprain in his shoulder, and the injury is expected to sideline the fourth-round pick for an extended period.
Depending on the severity of the injury, which is a separated shoulder, the Steelers could place Bryant on the short-term injured reserve list after he makes the 53-man roster.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 8:23pm
Brown put up some awe-inspiring numbers: 110 receptions and a franchise single-season best 1,499 receiving yards.
While the spotlight will shine on Brown, there will be plenty attention given his supporting cast. Roethlisberger has spent much of training camp and the preseason adapting to several new faces, including free agent signees Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, and rookie Martavis Bryant.
Roethlisberger, too, will have a new starter flanked opposite Brown. Markus Wheaton, a second-year receiver who was slowed by a broken finger during his rookie season, seems to have settled in with the offense.
There still needs to be some balance in the offense with the running game. But if the Steelers are going to air it out, the new WR members will be challenged to duplicate the 2013 efforts of Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders. They combined for 113 receptions, 1,342 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. We expect Wheaton to put up solid numbers as the Steelers WR2, and could provide some depth to your fantasy team.
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