Friday, August 12, 2011

Cattching Cotchery

Joey Porter's Pit Bulls are lukewarm-not-enthused about the Steelers signing former Jets receiver Jericho Cotchery. We would have been happier had the Steelers gone with Tyler Grisham.

It's not just that Cotchery's production has gone downhill since 2007, when he had 82 catches for 1,130 yards. Last season, he had just 41 catches for 433 yards. Not so great. Hall of Famer Chris Carter -- who knows something about playing wideout in the NFL -- said this morning on ESPN's "Mike & Mike Show" that Cotchery had a lot of drops last season and has lost some speed the past few years.

Cotchery had been unhappy with his diminished role in New York and had requested his release. His role in Pittsburgh? Good question. He probably will get most of his playing time out of the slot-receiver position, but he projects to be the fifth receiver on the depth chart. If he was unhappy with his role in New York, how is he going to be happy being fifth on the depth chart in Pittsburgh?

Mike Wallace certainly is going to line up on one side pretty much full-time. You'd figure Hines Ward will get a lot of playing time, even though this may be his last year. Emmanuel Sanders would be next in line, with Antonio Brown also getting more and more playing time, as the season progresses.

All four receivers are better than Cotchery -- when they're healthy.

What really concerns us about this deal is the possibility that the Steelers signed Cotchery solely because Emmanuel Sanders' foot injury may be more serious than is being disclosed.

We're worried about the Steelers in general, and they haven't even played their first pre-season game. We'd been rooting for rookie running back Baron Batch, who was tearing it up at camp before he tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament [knee]) on Wednesday. Batch was showing every indication he "gets" it -- he even had the crusty veterans "oohing and ahwing"with his blocking, running, catching and kick-returning. It appeared Batch was emerging as the third running back behind Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, and possibly edging out Mewelde Moore and definitely bumping an apparently our-of-shape Jonathan Dwyer off the roster.

Batch is an easy guy to root for -- just read his blog entry titled "Detour," which he wrote on Wednesday shortly after he sustained the injury. Joey Porter's Pit Bulls wish Baron Batch all the best for a full recovery and a return to the team next season.

As for this season, we have worries, as always. Four AFC teams in particular worry us, in this order: the San Diego Chargers, the New England Patriots, the New York Jets, and the Baltimore Ravens.

This may be San Diego's year to finally break through. They seem to underachieve every year, but this may be their year. That's a team to watch.