LATROBE, Pa. -- The Pittsburgh Steelers' top three receivers -- Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery -- will get most of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's passes, but the final two wideout spots on the final 53-man roster, and possibly two more on the practice squad are up for grabs.
Third-round pick Markus Wheaton, sixth-rounder Justin Brown, second-year pro David Gilreath and first-year player Derek Moye are candidates. Plaxico Burress's possible season-ending injury Thursday opens up the depth chart a bit. Wheaton should be on that list, and I believe Moye can slip into a spot on the 53-man roster.
I've known Moye for many years. I covered him as a young player at Rochester High School in Beaver County, about 25 miles north of Pittsburgh, and followed his career at Penn State. He's 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, among the biggest Steelers receivers, along with the 6-5, 232-pound Burress and 6-3, 209-pound Justin Brown. But Moye also is a Pennsylvania sprint champion.
I believe this sets him apart from the rest of the Steelers wideout candidates. Moye mentioned another characteristic that makes him a cut above.
"Obviously, I'm a bigger guy, and when I have an opportunity to go up and attack the ball and compete for it, that's one of my strengths,'' Moye said.
"And I want to make the most of all those opportunities, especially the ones where I can go get the ball. ... This is a big weekend for me, the first preseason game, and I just want to make the most of everything. I'll play some on special teams and hopefully get some chances to catch passes as well.''
The Steelers face the New York Giants Saturday night at 7:30 at Heinz Field, and Moye is among the Steelers young players who deserve a good look from the coaching staff, as well as the fans.
"I know that there's a lot of guys at receiver on this team and not too many spots, but you can't worry about what they're doing,'' Moye said. "You can only concentrate on what you need to do to get better every day. That's all you can worry about. And as far as I'm concerned, I'm happy when the other guys make big plays. That just increases the competition among us.
"That's a really good thing. So, if I can keep showing the coaches that I can go up and compete for balls and win the majority of those plays as a big receiver, that will help me a lot. I also can separate myself on special teams as a gunner and jammer. That way, I can help myself in as many ways as possible. I'm on all the teams, just not field goal and field-goal block, so I'll get some chances.''
I'm betting that Moye makes the most of those opportunities. He's a good player and a nice kid to boot. With all the negative press the NFL gets for its players acting poorly off the field, Moye is someone we all should root for. A good, educated young man who also can play football.
The Steelers like these types of players, so Moye would be a good fit. All he wants to do is make plays to help the team win football games. The Steelers Nation will learn to like him, too. He's their kind of player, not a showboat or someone who puts himself above the team.
"Steelers fans are the best in the NFL,'' Moye said. "It's an honor to play for them, and I'm looking forward to playing in front of them Saturday night. I hope I get a lot of other chances to do that a lot more on Sundays.''
I believe that Moye and all the fans will get that opportunity this year.
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