Skip to main content

Roethlisberger: Markus Wheaton a 'breakout player'

Glowing reports from NFL insiders and Steelers beat writers last week provoked a virtual stampede of fantasy football analysts rushing to anoint Martavis Bryant the NFL's breakout star of 2015.

Around The NFL had already purchased shares of Bryant stock, ranking the second-year wideout No. 17 on the annual "Making the Leap" countdown.

Are we all targeting the wrong Pittsburgh receiver?

While Bryant's potential is off the charts, Ben Roethlisberger predicted over the weekend that Markus Wheaton will be the Steelers' "breakout player of the year."

"I want that. I want him to have that pressure," Roethlisberger told SiriusXM NFL Radio, "because ... when we're in two-wide receivers he's our No. 2 and we're asking him to play outside. When we go three wide receivers, we ask him to move inside. So he's playing multiple positions.

"I think he's doing an amazing job of it. He's such a good kid, hard worker and he wants to be great wherever he plays."

A talented player in his own right, Wheaton was expected to take a "significant step" forward last summer -- only to be bypassed by Bryant at midseason.

Wheaton is now trending in the right direction. He probably had the best offseason of any of the receivers, NFL Media's Albert Breer recently reported after chatting with Steelers coaches.

Roethlisberger's comments shouldn't be taken as gospel truth that Wheaton will outproduce Bryant, who offers greater big-play and red-zone potential. It's fair to infer that this is a case of a quarterback trying to light a fire under a pivotal player needed to emerge as a more reliable weapon.

What Roethlisberger does strongly suggest, though, is that Wheaton will play more snaps, entering the season as the starter in two-wide receiver sets.

Whether it's Wheaton or Bryant who emerges opposite Antonio Brown, this offense has a chance to clear 30 points per game while hanging with the Packers and the Colts as the NFL's most unstoppable attacks.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses Tom Brady's lawsuit and debates which veteran players are most likely to be cut.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content