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Justin Brown executing plan to perfection

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With odds stacked against the second-year receiver due to issues out of his control, all he can truly aim for is to make it hard on his coaches to cut him. After a few practices, Justin Brown has done exactly that to this point.

Justin K. Aller

A player can't do much about the level of competition he faces in training camp.

In fact, one might say his only goal is to make it extremely difficult for his coaches to cut him. If that's the case, Steelers second-year wide receiver Justin Brown is right on target to meet that goal.

Brown is in a very difficult position of his own. With two wide receivers drafted in the third and fourth rounds, respectively - Markus Wheaton in 2013 and Martavis Bryant in 2014 - Brown, the team's sixth-round choice in 2013 and member of its practice squad last year doesn't have the benefit of investment. Add in veterans Antonio Brown and Lance Moore, there's likely only one wide receiver position open on this year's roster.

And there may not even be that.

Brown is in a no-win competition against the four aforementioned receivers, but he'll still be doing himself a disservice to think the Steelers will automatically keep five wide receivers. They may keep four, and include the modern slash Dri Archer as a fifth receiver, even as he's splitting time between running backs and receivers' meetings.

Regardless, Brown has been headline and notebook worthy through the early phases of training camp - the last remnants of Football In Shorts before the team starts working in full pads with full contact Monday. He's caught everything thrown his way, he's given fans a thrill and he's earned the vocal praise of coaches watching passing drills.

Fair or unfair, due to what the team can reasonable expect to keep (A. Brown, Moore, Wheaton and Bryant), along with another draft pick (Archer), Justin Brown may be working to try out for another team, similar to the fate of ex-Steelers seventh round pick Toney Clemons (a practice squader in 2012 who ended up getting scooped up by the Jaguars later in his rookie season. Clemons is now with the Carolina Panthers).

There isn't much he can do about that; he can just continue to catch everything thrown at him, and work as hard as he can. While it may not necessarily result in winning a roster spot, if he's made it as tough as possible for his coaches to cut him, he's done his job.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has to be pretty uncomfortable right now with letting go of the 6-foot-3 Brown.