An opportunity arose for one of Pittsburgh’s younger pass-catchers to take Plaxico Burress’ roster spot after the veteran sustained a season-ending shoulder injury last month. Although Burress did not figure to be more than the fourth or fifth wide receiver on the Steelers’ depth chart, his absence meant a door opened for one of Pittsburgh’s less-experienced wide receivers to move up the depth chart.
An already “smaller” wide receiver corps to begin with, the loss of Burress meant that Pittsburgh would be without their largest-framed target. Thankfully, Derek Moye has responded to the challenge and now appears primed to make the Steelers’ 53-man roster.
Although Markus Wheaton has made some of the more electrifying plays in the passing game during Pittsburgh’s first three preseason games, it is actually Moye who his the Steelers’ leader in receptions through the team’s first three weeks of preseason play.
After the former Penn State Nittany Lion hauled in two passes for 22 yards in their Week 1 loss to New York, Moye followed that performance up with three catches for 31 yards and a touchdown reception against the Redskins last Monday. Then on this past Saturday night, Moye snagged three more passes for 41 yards against Kansas City.
While his former Penn State teammate Justin Brown has not been “chopped liver” himself during preseason play (5 catches for 37 yards), Moye has been one of the Steelers’ most pleasant surprises on the offensive side of the ball during the second halves of their first three preseason contests.
At 6’5″ 210 lbs., Moye gives Pittsburgh’s offense some size at a position which truly has lacked it over the last decade. While Moye has yet to play in a regular season game as a professional, he still has a strong chance of making the Steelers’ 53-man roster as a developmental prospect whose size, speed, and pass-catching ability could help this team in the future.
Although Moye has impressed, he will still have to hold off Justin Brown over the next week. Keeping Brown at bay will be important for Moye, especially because I believe that the Steelers will only reserve one spot for a larger framed wide receiver with Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, and Markus Wheaton taking the top four spots in front of them.
Despite the limited spots available at the wide receiver position, I will still say that both pass-catchers have performed well enough during the last two months for them earn invites back to Pittsburgh’s practice squad if they are unable to put both players on their 53-man roster.
As it stands now though, Moye could very well nail down one of the Steelers’ final roster spots with a solid performance during his team’s preseason finale on Thursday night.
Follow me on Twitter: @DominicDiTolla
Follow & Like “NPC” on Facebook: Nice Pick, Cowher