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Steelers: Receivers are greatest show for wrong reasons

I apologize for not having an article posted earlier this week. Sunday night I got myself into some trouble on social media which forced me to call in sick on Monday, and then I had to spend the last two days searching for a bike.

All jokes aside, I want to talk about the most interesting position group in all of football, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receivers.

Every Monday morning, regardless of the game’s outcome, it seems that one of the members of this small group seems to be in the headlines for something aside from catching passes. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, one thing is for sure, Pittsburgh’s receiving core makes for some fantastic – or frustrating – entertainment.

Entering the regular season, there was a question as to who would be the six pass catchers to make the roster. Many were also curious as to how each of them would be used.

Though trading Sammie Coates to the Cleveland Browns made the first question easier to figure out, the second one still remains unanswered as we enter week eight of the NFL season.

Aside from Antonio Brown who is the best receiver in the game and Darrius Heyward-Bey, who has been excellent on special teams, the other four wide outs have yet to really find a definitive role on this year’s team.

JuJu Smith-Schuster certainly is becoming a fan favorite thanks to his creative end zone celebrations and fun social media presence, but has he officially became the Steelers second best option when throwing the ball? He will have a big chance to show if he is indeed capable of being the yin to Browns yang this Sunday in his first NFL start.

However, with Martavis Bryant not taking up a better defender, JuJu will be tested more than the Steelers front office assumed he would have this year.

Of course, JuJu will be starting because of the antics of Bryant, who will not be playing this week due to his misbehavior on social media. Following reports where he asked for a trade, Bryant outdid himself last Sunday calling out the organization and his rookie teammate, sending Steeler nation into an uproar.

After being suspended all of last season and acting out in the past weeks, it is unclear what Bryant’s role will be in the future.

Can he gain back the respect of his teammates and even have the chance of being the play maker that he once was in this offense? Or will he just lay low for the rest of the year and seek opportunities elsewhere? More importantly, if Bryant continues to not see the field due to his poor attitude, who will his replacement be on the field?

Obviously, Smith-Schuster will take over the starting role, but after Ben Roethlisberger showed signs of his old self in last week’s win over the Bengals, there might be a need for another receiver to step up in as the season winds down.

Which leads me to ask, where the heck has Eli Rogers been? Last season Rogers has caught 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns. So far this year, he has only been thrown to just 13 times.

Is there drama preventing Rogers from seeing more opportunities that we do not know about? Has he really been outplayed that much by Bryant? Or is the passing attack simply not good enough this season for him to get any chances to perform?

Finally, the sixth man on the depth chart, Justin Hunter, a player the Steelers decided to keep over Coates has been M.I.A as well. Though as the one of the final members to make the team, it would be unfair to hold him to the same expectations as the five men ahead of him, yet, he still has not been good enough at times to even dress on Sunday.

From the best in the game, to lovable rookies, to social media drama queens to players that have straight up disappeared, this cast that was once looked at as the most solid receiving core in the league has now become the most unstable part of the team.

Though their lack of success as a unit falls on numerous people, coach Mike Tomlin must find a way to get better use out of this incredibly talented group or you can expect more drama and less of a chance at that seventh Lombardi trophy.

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Noah Hiles

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