After only catching 16 passes for 273 yards in the first 10 games of the 2015 regular season, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton rebounded to catch 28 more ball for 476 yards in the team’s final 6 games with 4 of those receptions being touchdowns.
During his weekly Thursday meeting with the media, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley was asked about to talk about what led to Wheaton’s resurgence later on in the season.
“I think he has gained some confidence,” said Haley of Wheaton, who is in his third season. “He is continuing to work on his game and get better at some of the little and subtle things. I think he is hungry to continue to contribute. But the big thing is, when he had the breakout game in Seattle, I think that really gave him a little burst of confidence. He is taking it and running with it.”
Wheaton’s game against the Seahawks was indeed a big one as the Oregon State product caught 9 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown in the Steelers 39-30 road loss. Additionally, only once since he had that career game has he registered less than 50 yards receiving in a game.
Saturday night the Steelers will play the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Wild Card playoff game and with the opposing defense likely to play a lot of cover-2 shell with zone coverage underneath, Wheaton should have lots of room to work underneath. after registering just one reception for 5 yards in the first meeting between the Steelers and Bengals back in Week 8, Wheaton hauled in 4 passes from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the Week 14 rematch between the teams that ultimately resulted in a Pittsburgh win.
If Roethlisberger is smart Saturday night, he’ll take what the Bengals give him underneath and not force the ball to wide receiver Antonio Brown along the way. That kind of game plan could result in a good game for Wheaton as the Steelers look to advance one step closer to a seventh Lombardi Trophy.