There is no denying the Pittsburgh Steelers need help at the wide receiver position. With Markus Wheaton placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey both nursing injuries, it has left Antonio Brown, Eli Rogers and Cobi Hamilton as the only healthy wide receivers on the current roster.
Yeah, the cupboard is pretty bare.
So, what can the Steelers do to help their current situation? According to Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the team plans on turning to rookie wide receiver and punt returner Demarcus Ayers for some added depth.
In fact, the report is stating the coaches have been impressed with Ayers the past few weeks, and told him a promotion could be looming.
“I got close the last couple of games when guys got banged up,” he said. “They said they like the way I'm progressing.
“The arrow is pointed toward me getting moved up soon, hopefully sooner or later.”
What was far less known was the severity of Ayers’ high ankle injury he sustained early in training camp. The Steelers could have placed him on injured reserve or released him with an injury settlement, but instead the rookie toughed out the injury and was rewarded with a spot on the team’s 10-man practice squad.
Ayers received first-team repetitions at practice Wednesday, which is likely another reason the Steelers decided to give Antonio Brown a day off. However, Ayers is known for being a slot receiver, not the typical ‘X’ receiver. Nonetheless, it hasn’t stopped Ayers from learning the entire system.
“Coach (Todd) Haley told me to learn both spots,” Ayers said. “It's an opportunity for me to get on the field whether it's blocking or catching the ball. It feels so good just to be in the game plan. I'm sure my time will come.
“We talk about next man up, but it also shows the credit and work I've put in for them to even trust me to go in there.”
Ayers might get his shot to finally be a part of the 53-man roster soon, and he likely is just hoping for the chance to make a play. Whether that is as a punt returner or in the standard offense, all he is looking for his an opportunity.