Dear proud (if perturbed) members of the Steelers Nation,
I realize you would sooner see the Cowboys' star in the middle of Heinz Field than Ricardo Colclough returning punts. And that you have other concerns with the 1-2 Steelers, particularly regarding the passing game.
You shouldn't, for what it's worth, expect too much from first-round pick Santonio Holmes, and that's not a knock on the former Ohio State star.
History shows wide receivers generally play more of a supporting than starring role in their first season.
Consider that of the 45 wideouts taken in the first round of the NFL Draft from 1996-2005, only three had 1,000 or more receiving yards their rookie season. By comparison, nine of the 28 running backs drafted in the first round during the same span have eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing as rookies.
"Having to share (the ball) was difficult," said former Pitt All-American Larry Fitzgerald, who had a solid rookie season with the Cardinals (58 receptions for 780 yards in 2004) before breaking through his second year. "And the matchups -- the competition was a lot better."
Countless players have found that out.
Jerry Rice, the greatest wide receiver of all time, put up decent numbers (49 catches for 975 yards and three touchdowns) but hardly dominated his first year.
Cris Carter, who is second only to Rice in career touchdown receptions and receiving yards, caught just five passes in nine games for the Eagles his rookie season.
"There were so many things I didn't know and things I did well in college that didn't work in the pros," said Carter, who is now an HBO "Inside the NFL" analyst. "You have less time to get open because they put more pressure on the quarterback in the NFL. I would say that any nickel back (in the NFL) is better than any cornerback you ever faced (in college)."
The game is so much faster in the NFL that first-year wide receivers can feel like they've stepped onto a treadmill that has been set at the highest speed, as Hines Ward can attest.
"Here, we have guys studying every move you make, and you have to adjust on the run and be able to read coverages," said Ward, who caught 15 passes for 246 yards and no touchdowns as a rookie in 1998. "There's only been one receiver I ever saw that came in as a rookie and dominated the game, and that's Randy Moss. He just was a freak of nature as far as speed, height and just made plays."