The Pittsburgh Steelers may have the ‘Killer Bees’ in Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant (minus Le’Veon Bell), but no one should count receiver Markus Wheaton out of the mix any more. Once overlooked, Wheaton has emerged as a real threat on offense for the Steelers in 2015.
In his third season with Pittsburgh, Wheaton is making a real impact. This in spite of the fact that Antonio Brown continues to be the number one receiver on the roster. Wheaton and Roethlisberger have found a rhythm in the past two weeks that indicates a new level of trust between the two.
Wheaton had a career game against the Seattle Seahawks with nine catches for 201 yards and a touchdown. It was a noteable breakout performance. Pundits will claim that Wheaton was only targeted due to Brown being covered by Richard Sherman, but a 22.3 yards-per-catch average in a single game is something NFL receivers dream of owning.
Brown is flash. Wheaton may just be bang. Against the Colts, Brown recorded 118 yards on eight receptions and ended the day with two receiving touchdowns. Bryant logged four receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. The fourth receiving touchdown on the day was Wheaton’s. He had three receptions for 50 yards, a 16.7 yards-per-catch average with his longest going for 27 yards.
On the season, Wheaton has caught 28 passes for 524 yards and three touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was a 72-yard catch and run straight into the end zone. Wheaton has improved his ability to challenge defensive backs and his speed is starting to be showcased more when teams place single coverage on him.
Not many guys in a three-receiver set get a lot of attention from teams in the league. The focus is on the top two on the depth chart and especially on the guy that has put up the most yards for the most points. Entering their final four games of the regular season, the Steelers have Wheaton as a knockout punch in an already deadly arsenal. Teams that face Pittsburgh moving forward won’t have the luxury of placing all of their attention on a single receiver and that suits Wheaton just fine.