Big Ben is expecting a lot out of his young receivers this upcoming season.
The loss of wide receiver Martavis Bryant to a year-long suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy is a big one, but the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense still has the potential to be the best in the NFL.
With arguably the best QB-WR-RB combo in the league in Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers should be a nightmare for defenses around the league if healthy.
However, Pittsburgh still needs to find a way to compensate for the loss of Bryant, who had 765 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games in 2015.
The two prime candidates for expanded roles this upcoming season are Sammie Coates and Markus Wheaton, and their quarterback is expecting the two young wideouts to take a significant leap in their development in 2016.
"We all need to step up anyway, but we have a lot of guys who carry a lot on their shoulders already, so we'll all need to step up," Roethlisberger said, according to Ray Fottipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I'd like to see some of the young guys really take the next step, especially the young receiving guys."
Wheaton excelled in the latter part of the 2015 campaign, catching 28 passes for 476 yards and four touchdowns in the final six games of the season.
"I'm definitely excited about the opportunity," Wheaton said. "I wish Martavis was here, but we have a lot of young guys who are willing and able."
Coates was mostly anonymous during his rookie year due to nagging injuries and poor conditioning, catching just one pass in the regular season. However, he teased his potential with two catches for 61 yards in Pittsburgh's playoff game against the Denver Broncos.
"We just have to go out here and work every day," Coates said. "We lost a player. We have to pick up his slack. Everybody has to work together and get it done."
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