While steadfastly maintaining that the regular-season finale would be approached as “business as usual,” coach Mike Tomlin strongly indicated that several of the Steelers' star players will not be in uniform for Sunday's meaningless game against the Cleveland Browns.
Tomlin said that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le'Veon Bell, receiver Antonio Brown and center Maurkice Pouncey “will get that consideration” as players who will be “preserved as we look into the playoff round.”
That downturn in Brown’s statistics means he won’t threaten two NFL records he came close to breaking a year ago. It also means he likley will have his worst statistical season since 2012.
There was a time when Brown might have lashed out about the circumstances around his production, but it hasn’t happened yet this season.
“I’m extremely grateful,” Brown said Friday. “We’ve been winning and doing some positive things. Whatever it takes to win, whether it’s running or passing, whatever gets the job done this time of the year is what we have to do."
Brown hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game in the Steelers’ four-game winning streak while Bell is riding a four-game streak of 100-yard rushing games. Through 13 games, Brown has 93 receptions for 1,130 yards, a pace for 114 receptions and 1,391 receiving yards. That’s a great season for almost any NFL receiver, but not for Brown, who last season had 136 receptions for 1,834 yards.
Friday, December 2, 2016, 6:13pm
Thursday, December 1, 2016, 6:10pm
Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 6:36pm
Friday, November 4, 2016, 6:47pm
Thursday, November 3, 2016, 6:12pm
Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 6:39pm
The team had no choice but to move Markus Wheaton to second string after he's missed four games with a shoulder injury and has struggled to find a rhythm in the three games he has played. Plus, Heyward-Bey has been a valuable reserve receiver and special-teamer; he nearly caught two touchdown passes in Week 7 against the New England Patriots.
This is obviously a blow to the entire Pittsburgh offense. Since 2015, Roethlisberger has missed four games, and the team's passing yards decreased by 45%, total points decreased by 25% and passing touchdowns decreased by 39%. So all the Pittsburgh receivers take a hit while Roethlisberger is out. Landry Jones will start in the interim. He has a career completion percentage of 57.1% with a good YPA (9.2) and a not-so-good TD-to-INT ratio (3:4). He may work his way into streaming consideration if things break his way, but this is a sizable downgrade at quarterback. Roethlisberger's absence might benefit Bell, who tends to see more carries when his quarterback his out. But last season that increase in carries was offset by a reduced role in the passing game, so it looks like a wash for Bell. UPDATE: Our source in Pittsburgh said that the timeline came from Roethlisberger, who tends to “play up” his injuries so that he looks “tough” when he returns early. Our source said that he was told Roethlisberger is expected to return in Week 9 after the team’s bye. So owners should stream for the next couple of weeks and see how his recovery is going at that point.
Friday, October 7, 2016, 6:27pm
Steelers WR Eli Rogers (toe, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 5. Sammie Coates and Markus Wheaton figure to play most of the snaps opposite Antonio Brown. Coates looks like a great play this week.
Through three weeks, Brown led the NFL in targets with 40. Roethlisberger has thrown just 35 passes combined to the team's other wide receivers.
That means 53.3 percent of Steelers passes going to wide receivers have gone to Brown.
For comparison's sake, Mike Evans, No. 2 in the NFL in targets, has been targeted on 42.9 percent of Tampa Bay's throws to wide receivers.
The story went on to say in the past three seasons, when Brown had more catches than any player over a three-year span in NFL history, he accounted for 44.4 percent, 48.1 percent and 47.8 percent, respectively, of Steelers wideouts targets. But those teams had dynamic receivers like Martavis Bryant and Emmanuel Sanders.
Friday, September 30, 2016, 8:26pm
Steelers WR Eli Rogers (toe, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 4. There’s a good chance that Wheaton will play in the slot with Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates outside. Wheaton was very effective in the slot last year. Both he and Coates are Sneaky Starts against the Chiefs.
Thursday, September 29, 2016, 6:45pm
Steelers WR Eli Rogers (toe) missed practice again Thursday. Rogers has a case of turf toe, and if he misses, there’s a good chance that Wheaton will play in the slot with Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates outside. Wheaton was very effective in the slot last year.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016, 6:34pm
Steelers WR Eli Rogers (toe) did not practice Wednesday. Rogers has a case of turf toe, and if he misses, there’s a good chance that Wheaton will play in the slot with Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates outside. Wheaton was very effective in the slot last year.
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