The Steelers were counting on their receiver depth easing the transition to a new offense this offseason.
The only problem is, one absence has revealed they may not have as much as they thought.
With Mike Wallace continuing his holdout, the Steelers realize they’re one injury away from someone from a bunch of unknowns seeing the field.
If Wallace is alongside Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, they’re not worried. But Wallace isn’t there (and there’s no indication he’s on his way anytime soon), leaving the Steelers wondering who else they have.
“I haven’t seen any distinct separation at this point, but it’s still early” coordinator Todd Haley told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, when asked about the remaining candidates.
Beyond the first three, the only player with NFL experience is Derrick Williams, who caught nine passes for the Lions in 2009 and 2010 but was out of the league last year. Otherwise, all they have are first-year players and rookies, with seventh-rounder Toney Clemons the only pick of the bunch.
If Wallace stays away until the final six weeks of the season (all he needs to become an unrestricted free agent next year), the Steelers might have a problem, and the answers might not be on hand.
“It’s very critical, because you get thin real quick if we don’t have a couple of those guys,” Haley said of the young group. “But, like I said, there is ability, and there are some flashes of things you like to see. I don’t think the cupboard’s bare, it’s young.”
Bouchette also mentioned the possibility of Plaxico Burress (though that’s more like rolling a grenade into a foxhole of fans). The fact no one’s signed him yet should be revealing, as his side has made it known league-wide he’s not looking for a payday, just a chance.
The Steelers might be desperate, but they’re not that desperate yet.