The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiving corps is no joke. Considered by many to be the best unit from top-to-bottom in the NFL, few work harder on the field. What else is no joke is how these players prepare off the field. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler takes fans inside the Steelers WR meeting room, and what you find are some things which make the group comprised of Antonio Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton the very best.
To no one's surprise, there is money flowing in the wide receiver room on a weekly basis, but why there is money being distributed among teammates might shock you. Players are "fined" for missed routes, dropped passes and missed assignments during film study following a game.
"You drop balls, it costs you money," Darrius Heyward-Bey said. "You mess up on routes, it costs you money. I'm not going to talk about the [exact] money, but we get into each other's pockets."
Something else which might come as a shock is the fact there are no playbooks allowed in the meeting room. The thought of players spilling through a thick bracketed playbook would seem to be commonplace in NFL meeting rooms across the continent, but the opposite is true in the Steelers wideout meetings.
"That's [having a playbook in the meeting room] really, really rare," Heyward-Bey said. "I think that's also what makes us good."
"We basically know the whole offense right now," Martavis Bryant said in regards to committing the entire playbook to memory.
Thinking about the combination of Brown, Bryant and Wheaton, one would think these players each want an equal part of the pie. Nothing could be further from the truth. As it turns out, wide receivers coach Richard Mann is not trying to make everything think this is an equal opportunity offense.
"We don't hide it [the fact Antonio Brown is the main cog at the WR position]," Mann said. "Sooner or later, they will get their number called. Sometimes the coverage dictates that, 'this is your week.'"
The Steelers receivers have seen this phenomenon known as the "Brown Precedent" on more than one occasion. Whether it was Brown torching the Oakland Raiders or the Indianapolis Colts, Brown is going to get his touches. However, like in the Seattle Seahawks game, when Brown is taken out of the equation someone else needs to step up. On that day, it was Wheaton who had a career game against the vaunted Seattle defense.
To no surprise, the leaders of the offense control the meeting room from time to time, and that includes quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger is a regular in the wide receiver meetings, especially on Saturdays. "He'll come in and say a few things that he wants, detailing routes," Brown said. Other than Roethlisberger, Brown is the clear leader of the receivers, and rightfully so. Brown doesn't just work hard on the field, but also off it by taking copious notes in the meetings.
"I'm the lead-by-example type," Brown said.
If Brown is able to continue his current pace for the 2015 season, his example will lead not only the wide reciever, but the Steelers to the 2015 AFC Playoffs for back-to-back seasons in hopes of bringing home the team's 7th Lombardi trophy.