For just the first time the entire season, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore logged more than 50 percent of the team’s snaps in a game on Sunday. Was it just a coincidence that it happened to come against the New Orleans Saints, the team that he played for before signing with the Steelers as a street free agent this spring?
In all, the Steelers logged a season-high 92 snaps on offense, and Moore played 49 of those snaps for a little over 50 percent of the total playing time.
His previous season-high came in the second game against the Cleveland Browns, during which he logged 36 snaps, about 46 percent of the total snaps. He finished that game catching his first touchdown from Ben Roethlisberger in garbage time as the Steelers were getting blown out.
After missing the first two games of the season, he’s now played just over 200 snaps, which was probably quite a bit less than may have been expected when the Steelers signed him to replace their free agent losses at the position.
It took him three games after returning to finally start logging time over Justin Brown, and it was just one more game before the Steelers finally activated rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
Bryant, of course, promptly went on a tear, catching six touchdown passes in his first four career games, which was tied for the most of all time in a player’s first four games. However, he’s had a couple of disappointing efforts over his last two games, which included two failed touchdown opportunities that should have been converted.
As a result, Bryant’s playing time has dipped. After logging between 35 for 40 percent of the offense’s snaps in his first two games, the Steelers began sending him onto the field more than half the time. By this past Sunday, he has dropped back down to 35 percent.
There’s no doubt that there will be an ebb and flow to be expected with respect to the snap counts for the wide receiver group behind Antonio Brown, who rarely leaves the field. Even Markus Wheaton, as starter, has begun to see the field only around two thirds of the time since Bryant has gotten involved in the offense.
But it’s clear that who’s up and who’s down will depend not only on the hot hand philosophy, but also the opponent. Moore, of course, had a unique advantage going up against the Saints, given that he had for so long gone against some of those same players in practice and understands the defense better than an unpolished rookie might.
Of course, he only recorded two receptions for 13 yards (Bryant’s one reception on the day went for 23 yards, though he also failed to come down with a reception at the right pylon in the end zone). It will be interesting to see how the offense utilizing the third receiver spot next week in Cincinnati based on recent performances and matchups.