By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — Jerricho Cotchery said he knew that he wanted to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers after a lengthy visit last week, but he still left their training camp at Saint Vincent College and took a trip to see the Baltimore Ravens.
That was just for show, the veteran wideout noted, to fulfill a business obligation. But Cotchery was certain that he belonged with the Steelers and eventually signed a one-year contract.
“I was talking with Ryan Clark earlier and told him that I would watch the interviews and saw how everybody said they do things a certain way over here,” Cotchery said. “I didn’t know what they were talking about, but now I know. It’s a great atmosphere. Everyone’s tight.
“It’s easy to work here, so I’m glad to be here. After my visit here, I really believed this was the place for me. This was the type of atmosphere that I needed to be in now. Business-wise, you still have to take the visit (to Baltimore), but all along I believed this was the place for me.”
Conversely, Cotchery believed his time was up with the New York Jets. He wasn’t happy being the third option for quarterback Mark Sanchez, but that might be all he gets with the Steelers. Still, Cotchery is glad to have moved on.
“Even though I was there a long time, I really didn’t foresee myself fitting into their future,” Cotchery said. “It was beneficial for both sides for that to happen. And the Steelers are always a contender here, so I could see myself coming in here and helping them win another Super Bowl.
“And that’s what it’s all about. So, I want to win right now, and the Steelers always have a chance. So, that’s the main reason I signed with the Steelers. I wanted to play for a Super Bowl contender, and I’m looking forward to being in the running every year. This is a great atmosphere, and I’m happy to be here.”
With veteran Hines Ward, third-year wideout Mike Wallace and second-year pros Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, the Steelers appear to have their top four set, barring an injury. How well Cotchery fits in remains to be seen.
“I didn’t know him before, but he seems like a good guy,” Wallace said. “So, we welcome him with open arms. I think he can help us a lot, because he’s a veteran guy like Hines and Arnaz (Battle). And anytime you can bring in a guy with that much experience, he can only help you out.
“He’s been a good receiver in this league, and hopefully he can bring some of those good times over here with us. I don’t know if he’s only going to be in the slot, because I think you can put him anywhere. He’s a versatile guy, so I think he can play anywhere. He’ll fit in just fine.”
Wallace seemed to embrace the competition aspect with one more veteran receiver in the mix, noting that “there will never be a drop-off in talent.” Sanders readily agreed with that assessment.
“It does a lot to have him in here to add depth to the wide receiver position,” Sanders said. “The way (receivers) coach (Scottie) Montgomery looks at it, this keeps the wide receiver room hot. You want that competition in the room, and we’re really going to have it now. (And) you want to be deep at wide receiver.
“Somebody could get hurt. And then you want the next guy to step in and be ready to play with no drop-off in play. That’s what we have here. If Hines goes down, you want someone to step in to fill that void and do a very good job at a Hall-of-Fame type level. And that’s the way it’s going to be for us this year.
“I remember Jerricho from the Jets, and he’s a great player,” Sanders added. “He made some big catches against us in the AFC championship (including a touchdown), so I’m sure he’ll raise the level of competition. But having him here won’t motivate me. I motivate myself to get ready for practice and games.”
Toward the end of last week, Sanders was hopeful to return to practice today. Now, he’s not sure. Originally, he had another week to heal his sore left foot, and he is still on schedule for that timetable.
“It’s still day-by-day, and there really is no time limit on it,” Sanders said. “So, I’m taking it like that. I’d like to be out there in practice, but we’ll see what happens. We can’t base it off my gut feeling, but an X-ray.
“Everybody wants to put a time-limit on it, but I can’t. I’m just going to take it day-by-day, and when the doctor says I’m ready then I’ll be ready. But I feel pretty good right now, and hopefully I be ready soon. I just don’t want to rush it. If I go out and re-injure it, this could linger. It could last through the season.
“And I don’t want that,” Sanders added. “So, I’m going to take it day-by-day and we’ll see what happens. The X-rays are showing that the bone is starting to fill in, so it’s healing on schedule. (And) we’re going to try to make it to the last preseason game, but we’ll see what happens.”
Note: To make room on the active roster for Cotchery, who will wear No. 82, the Steelers have placed defensive end Sunny Harris on their Waived/Injured List. Harris injured his right foot in the preseason opener Friday night.