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The Steelers 5th wide receiver spot may be a tighter race than expected

The Steelers have a true competition at wide receiver.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One of the things to watch out for as the preseason roles on is who is lining up at wide receiver outside of the core four guys. Ray-Ray McCloud held down the fifth wide receiver job a year ago, but it might not be that simple in 2021. Through one preseason game we have already seen other kick returners juice the offense and receiver’s get more of the work load. And even though it was ‘just the Hall of Fame Game’ even Chase Claypool took serious snaps on offense. So who are the combatants to look out during the Steelers next preseason games?

Here’s everything you need to know below:

Ray-Ray McCloud

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The incumbent, Ray-Ray McCloud was an electric return man for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020. He also became a fairly reliable target for Ben Roethlisberger and hauled in an additional 20 passes. Considering Matt Canada’s use of receiver motion it was thought that McCloud could see an expanded role in the offense, as well as retaining his return duties. McCloud still must be viewed as the favorite for the job, however if he doesn't start producing in the preseason soon Ray-Ray could be squeezed out of Pittsburgh in favor of someone else.

Matthew Sexton

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Minicamp Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Sexton’s dynamic return against the Dallas Cowboys sparked the Steelers’ offense who would instantly score points on the following drive. Sexton’s big play drew compliments from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin who credited the Steelers pick up of production on the rookie receiver. Sexton was a difference maker for the university of Eastern Michigan, and was also a track star in high school. Given his small stature (5’10” 176) he wasn't given an opportunity at a bigger school. Sexton has had success as a return man in college, and could be breathing down McCloud’s neck for the starting gig.

Rico Bussey

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Bussey joined the Steelers from the University of Hawaii this summer. He has been a name getting a ton of love out of Steelers training camp, and by the sounds of things is outplaying his college production at the NFL level. He is bigger than the first two guys on our list, but just as quick. Bussey has also become a favorite target of Dwayne Haskins, so that chemistry could help push Bussey onto the roster.

Anthony Johnson

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson has stuck around the Steelers roster for two years now, and has obviously left an impression on his coaches. His large frame (6’2” 220) makes him unlike the other guys on the list and compares closer to a Chase Claypool or a James Washington. His physicality is something the Steelers could always use more of, and he could be more of a traditional back up to the bigger guys on the roster. Johnson also caught the only receiving touchdown of the Steelers preseason thus far, and making plays like that will get you noticed.

Other names to watch out for: Cody White, and Isaiah McKoy

But what do you think? Will Ray-Ray McCloud hold onto his spot as the Steelers fifth receiver or will someone else claim the job? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.