Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Encouraging Signs

The early days of NFL Training Camp are much like MLB Spring Training: Hope and optimism are in the air. And why not?

We can't read too much into much of anything at this point, but early reports out of Steelers training camp are encouraging. By all accounts, the defense is looking fast, fast and faster. Rookies Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt project to be impact players, hopefully from Game One. Shazier's emergence will allow Troy Polamalu to go back to doing what he does best. Tuitt will buttress a defensive line that got pushed around too often last year.

Markus Wheaton
On offense, the reports on wide receiver Markus Wheaton also are encouraging. Various observers report that Wheaton has shown polish, speed, good hands and a professional approach. He seems to offer everything that Emmanuel Sanders brought, and more, but with better hands and without the ego.

As reported by ESPN.com's Scott Brown, all this has not gone unnoticed by head coach Mike Tomlin and veteran receiver Lance Moore:
“He’s a detailed guy,” Tomlin said. “I see him not only working out (on the field) before and after but into the evening. He’s just taking a really professional approach. I think he understands what we expect and what we need from him.” 
“He’s definitely got all of the ability and speed and hands and runs good routes,” said Moore, who is entering his 10th NFL season. “He’s definitely going to be an emerging player. It’s a deeper [wide receivers] group than I think people would imagine because there’s a lot of guys that haven’t played as much ball but guys that are definitely capable. I’ve been around long enough and seen enough guys and I think we’ve got a pretty special group.”
Joey Porter's Pit Bulls would like to believe we have reason to be cautiously-hopefully optimistic that Wheaton is a guy who will do well enough to make us forget the high hopes we once had for Emmanuel Sanders, and his disappointing drops, as well.

Wheaton is neither Emmanuel Sanders nor Mike Wallace, and we'll take that as a potentially good thing.

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