Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp on July 25th, and we are digging up the '32 Scenarios in 32 Days' segment to help us all pass the time. Once a day we will be drafting a potential 2015 season scenario, telling you why it will happen, why it won't and giving you important keys for the scenario to take place.
Scenario: Steelers WR Markus Wheaton catches six touchdown passes in 2015.
Why it will happen: Markus Wheaton is entering his third NFL season, and is ready to find his niche within the Steelers' offense as the new slot receiver. The main reason why Wheaton's touchdown production could triple (he had 2 touchdown receptions in 2014) this season could be boiled down to two players: Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Brown and Bryant will surely garner a lot of attention, leaving the opposing defense forced to pick which wide receivers will get safety help, and which won't.
Wheaton has been a great route runner since entering the NFL, and his rapport with Ben Roethlisberger certainly is evident as you watched the two last season. As the defense prepares to stop the multi-faceted offensive unit, Wheaton could see a one-on-one matchup which will certainly be to the advantage to the offense, and more importantly Wheaton.
Wheaton's case for tripling his production could certainly come down to his usage in the red-zone. Players who have been successful from the slot have made a living out of red zone opportunities. Jerricho Cotchery is the perfect example of this as he had 10 touchdowns in his final season with the Steelers, the majority of those touchdowns coming from the slot position. Wheaton will have to take a step forward in his preparation and reading defesenses and his overall ability if this scenario will come true.
Why it won't happen: For this scenario to not come true would simply be there might not be enough footballs to go around. Between Brown, Bryant and Wheaton, fans can't forget about Heath Miller, Le'Veon Bell and Sammie Coates as players who also will be vying for not just playing time, but receptions from Roethlisberger.
Outside of the depth the team has at their skill positions, the team's plan in the red-zone might not include Wheaton more than it does. When the team gets into the red-zone, they often times want to keep an extra tackle or tight end in to help pave way for Bell and the team's running backs. You don't want to take Antonio Brown or Martavis Bryant off the field as they are unbelievable weapons in the area where it counts the most. Todd Haley likes to utilize all his weapons, but his tendencies in 2014 and since he joined the Steelers could have Wheaton watching more than playing in 2015.
Wheaton's progression has been slow and steady since entering the NFL, and his ability to see consistent repetitions in 2015 will be the true test of this scenario coming true, or falling by the way side.
Keys: Wheaton has to prove he can be a threat in the slot, similar to Cotchery while with the team, and not turn into the headache which was Lance Moore in 2014. Moore failed to get on the same page with Roethlisberger and the coaching staff, and it equated to him now playing for the Detroit Lions. If Todd Haley utilizes Wheaton from the slot correctly, and Wheaton wins his one-on-one matchups, there is no doubt he could see a jump in his statistics in 2015, and 6 touchdowns seems very much within reach.