Steelers training camp talkers: wide receivers have questions, like, what can Brown do for you?

Karl Walter

While they won't shoulder all the responsibility in the passing game, both Brown and Emmanuel Sanders will need to step up if the Steelers want to find success through the air.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is on the verge of his most important career as a pro.

The likely absence of tight end Heath Miller for at least the beginning part of training camp and the departure of WR Mike Wallace puts a shining spotlight on Brown.

His emotion and energy - and a push into a wider display of playmaking ability - will serve the Steelers' transitioning offense well. It may be a question of quality more than quantity for Brown, as the Steelers look to establish the run in high order.

That running game was something they tried to establish in 2012, but slow starts from their offensive line and their running game shifted much of the production onto the shoulders of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He will need Brown, as well as Emmanuel Sanders, to follow his lead.

Sanders is primed for a breakout role as the Steelers split end. That position has been held down well by Wallace, Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington before him. If he is to continue the string of decent to outstanding players at that spot, he'll need to fend off the injury bug and hang onto the ball.

It won't be all on Brown and Sanders, but with rookie Markus Wheaton a bit behind in terms of practice time, and aging and sagging production from Jerricho Cotchery and Plaxico Burress (neither of whom is guaranteed a spot on this roster), they may have to shoulder the brunt of it.

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