WR is a position in transition

Posted Jul 27, 2014

WRs coach Richard Mann knows his group must establish an identity in 2014

LATROBE, Pa. – It’s a position that’s in transition, but also one with an opportunity for rejuvenation.

“I think we have a chance to kind of rejuvenate our group,” wide receivers coach Richard Mann said upon arriving at Saint Vincent College.

At the very least the Steelers need to repopulate the position after the free-agent departures of Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, because those two combined for 113 catches, 1,342 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns in 2013.

The offseason’s Organized Team Activities and minicamps suggested growth and potential at the position. Now that training camp has commenced Mann is looking forward to additional steps being taken, especially when the Steelers hold a pair of joint practices with the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 13-14 on campus here.

“One of the big tests will be when we go against Buffalo,” Mann said. “We’ll see just exactly where we are.”

In the interim Mann offered a few thoughts on some of the contenders at wide receiver this summer:

On second-year pro Markus Wheaton, a No. 3 pick in 2013:
“I think the sky’s the limit for him. We just have to keep him going.”

On veteran free-agent acquisition Lance Moore:
“He’s a cagey guy playing on the inside (slot) position. It takes talent to play in there. It takes a lot of savvy to play in there. Jerricho Cotchery was a guy we used in there. I think (Moore) will pick up the slack that we lost with Cotchery.”

On No. 4 pick Martavis Bryant, 6-foot-4, 211-pounds:
“He’s a guy who’s going to help us, there’s no question.”

On last year’s No. 6a pick Justin Brown, 6-3, 209:
“I think he’s a totally different guy (this season). He has a different look about him physically. He has a different look in his eye. His attitude is different.”  

The roster at wide receiver will unquestionably be different this season. The Steelers will learn soon enough about the specifics of their transition at the position.

“Once we start playing tackle (the shoulder pads come on Monday) and we start hitting and the lights come on, then we’ll see exactly what we have,” Mann said.