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Steelers Emmanuel Sanders pointing out the non Mike Wallace route

A doubting Steelers fan base will look more at it being a chance to build his reputation more than a genuine desire to be on the field.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is talking about injuries.

Specifically, his.

Tribune-Review reporter Mark Kaboly talked to Sanders, who is apparently playing through a foot injury he suffered a month ago. Kaboly suggested Sanders could simply shut himself down - much like former Steelers WR Mike Wallace was thought to have done last season, when he missed his first career game due to a hamstring injury in Week 17.

Sanders says he'll do no such thing.

"I know if I finish the season healthy, a lot of people are going to come at me," Sanders told Kaboly. "You know, I can shut it down right now if I wanted to, but why? I am going to give it my all every time I step out there."

If fans want to find deeper reason in that, they can. The reality is Sanders does not have a contract next season, and whether he's playing to establish more film to help increase his payday, or he's engaging in self-preservation, the point is the same - it's about him doing what he can to maximize his value.

We can't blame him, but we will anyway. It seems given the choice of playing or not playing, we're probably split on that as well. Some say Sanders - injured or not - should be shut down in favor of getting more snaps to rookie Markus Wheaton. Others will say they'd rather the team finish at .500, meaning they'd win their final two games.

Either way, these issues are things Sanders, and other pending free agents like Ziggy Hood, Jerricho Cotchery and Brett Keisel, will have to deal with over the final two games of the season.

While it may be better to avoid these kinds of comments altogether, he wouldn't want to appear truculent with the media, either. So he pretty much has no choice but to acknowledge it.

He'll have to acknowledge his production on the field as well, for better or for worse.