It wasn’t a memorable rookie season for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton, but it’s easy to put a finger on exactly why. A busted finger, to be exact.
Wheaton, who ended 2013 with just six catches for 64 yards in 164 snaps played, mangled a finger in the Week 4 loss in London to the Minnesota Vikings and as a result missed the next four games.
That down time, along with fellow receivers Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery all well on their way to having solid seasons, kept Wheaton’s play time limited when he finally returned to action in Week 10.
“It was unfortunate, really,” Cotchery told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review back in the middle of December. “He had a strong training camp, he was developing really, really well, and we were starting to get him into a groove. Then he went down, and that stunts your growth a little bit.”
Wheaton, who was mostly relegated to playing on special teams as a rookie, suffered another finger injury in the Week 16 win over the Green Bay Packers but was able to suit up for the season finale against the Cleveland Browns just the same. If you are wondering why Derek Moye played more snaps than Wheaton did in that game, it’s likely because the Oregon State product re-injured that finger again in the fourth quarter as Alex Kozora pointed out is tape breakdown of the game.
Wheaton is an incredibly bright and talented kid and while it might be discouraging to many that his development was slowed as a rookie, he should be able to hit the ground running when OTA sessions get underway in May.