The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Jerricho Cotchery before the 2011 season to add another veteran presence to the receiving core. I thought the Steelers made a good decision to sign Cotchery and thought that he would end up helping the team at some point. Cotchery then missed some time during the season due to injury and ended up with 16 receptions for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Though once healthy, Cotchery looked to have the potential to become a factor in the Steelers’ offense. His last reception of that season being a touchdown and coming in the heart wrenching defeat to the Denver Broncos in the playoffs.
Going into the 2012 season, Cotchery was seen as the third receiver and at worst the fourth depending on how Emmanuel Sanders had developed. The team had just parted ways with Hines Ward in the offseason and Cotchery was the lone veteran with Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Sanders. Cotchery then ended up injured again for a portion of the season and was irrelevant in the offense. He did end up with one more reception than in 2011 with 17 but he had zero touchdowns and 205 yards.
Now with Mike Wallace gone, Cotchery again will be looked upon to contribute as the third receiver behind Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Rookie Markus Wheaton has a shot to surpass Cotchery on the depth chart but the team will not rush that to happen. Cotchery begins third on the depth chart and at worst drops to fourth if Wheaton really shows he has a grasp of the offense.
The Steelers have a few nice looking young receivers on the training camp roster but no one really of significance. The team needs Brown, Sanders and Cotchery to stay healthy and contribute like the top three receivers on a team should. I wouldn’t predict Cotchery to have 1,000 yards or ten touchdowns or anything like that but a solid 500-800 yards and five touchdowns shouldn’t be out of the question. Though the team is going to try and lean more on the rushing game in 2013, we all know Ben Roethlisberger is still going to throw the ball a lot.
Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Markus Wheaton are all the same, quicker, faster type receiver. Cotchery doesn’t have speed but as long as he just catches everything thrown to him he should have no problem contributing.
In 2013 the only way I want to see Markus Wheaton on the field is because the rookie earned that time and not because of another injury to Cotchery. Cotchery is a still a good receiver and it’s time for him to just stay on the field and show it.
Statistics from ESPN.com