Ben Roethisberger already has the best receciver in the league as his favorite target in Antonio Brown. Now he is hoping to motivate another receiver to play on a truly elite level. Whom does he have in mind? Nope, not Martavis Bryant. The man Roethlisberger wants to see have a breakout season is Markus Wheaton.
The Arizona native who played college ball at Oregon State was the Steelers third-round pick in the 2013 draft, the year before teammate Martavis Bryant was picked up in the fourth round. Bryant had such a phenomenal rookie year that Wheaton has been the Forgotten Receiver at times.
Last week, though, Roethlisberger made it clear that he has both mad respect and high hopes for Wheaton, telling SiriusXM NFL Radio, via NFL.com, "I want (Wheaton) to have that pressure because when we're in two-wide receivers he's our No. 2 and we're asking him to play outside. When we go three wide receivers, we ask him to move inside. So he's playing multiple positions. I think he's doing an amazing job of it. He's such a good kid, hard worker, and he wants to be great wherever he plays."
In 2014 Wheaton tallied 53 receptions for a total of 644 yards. While Martavis Bryant generated more buzz towards the end of his rookie year, he finished the season with 26 receptions for 549 yards, an average of 21.1 yards, nearly 10 yards more than Wheaton. Bryant's 21.1 average yardage per reception and flashy plays positioned him as the more exciting player going into the current season.
With Roethlisberger's vote of confidence, Wheaton is definitely back on the radar. With one of the best offenses in the league, the Steelers have such a strong arsenal of superstars that solid players like Wheaton can get lost in the shuffle.
Though Wheaton has sat out a few days with injuries, overall he has had a fantastic training camp, positioning himself for a breakout season. Now that Wheaton has been called out by Roethlisberger, perhaps he will use that pressure and recognition to propel him to new levels of excellence.