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Markus Wheaton must pan out for the Steelers' to be successful

When Steelers fans and experts speak of the potential in the upcoming 2014 offense, they always count on a big year from second year wide out Markus Wheaton. That talk might be a little premature.

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The talk and excitement of another football season has already begun, and the Steelers' re-tooled offense looks to be as lethal as always with the additions of Lance Moore, LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer. However, when talking about receivers, outside of Moore and Antonio Brown who has established themselves as a worthy No. 2 receiver to line up opposite of Brown?

The answer, no one. When Emmanuel Sanders departed the steel city, it left a gaping hole in the wide receiver position. Fans immediately follow Mike Tomlin's words and his "next man up" mentality and turn to 2013 3rd round draft pick from Oregon State, Markus Wheaton to be the guy to step in and fill those shoes, but thats asking a little much of a player who registered a mere 6 receptions for 64 yards in 2013 and battled hand injuries throughout the season.

Certainly, Wheaton could step in and be every bit as polished in his route running and smooth out of his breaks as Sanders was, but can he master the offense and make the catches when they matter the most. That is the question that needs to be answered.

When talk is about a general lack of training camp battles when training camp starts in late July, this is certainly one that should be discussed as one of the biggest. It is essentially Wheaton's job to lose, but if he isn't able to secure that position it could mean trouble of an otherwise stellar offense.

Some might say Martavis Bryant as a rookie could step in, but rarely is a rookie able to get the nuances of the offense, the verbage and the adjustments made at the line of scrimmage to be able to do any more than simply specific package football.

If the Steelers want to truly contend this year and have a balanced offense, they need Wheaton to step up in his second year and show the speed and athleticism that had the Steelers select him in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. If he isn't capable, then it will make life much more difficult for Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game.