Replacing Nate Washington (#3 receiver) was one of the few intriguing battles in training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the season opener just three days away, Second year wide out Limas Sweed has shown enough progress to have a hold on the #3 spot for now, but head coach Mike Tomlin is not ready to officially name Sweed the teams #3 wide receiver.
Tomlin indicated at his weekly press conference on Friday that the battle for the #3 wide out spot is still open.
Limas Sweed has been battling rookie Mike Wallace and veteran wide receiver Shau McDonald throughout training camp and the preseason.
For the most part, the battle has been between Sweed and Wallace. Despite being very reliable, McDonald has rarely seen first team reps in practice or in games. He led the Steelers with 14 receptions in the preseason
Sweed perfomed well, finishing the preseason with 7 receptions for 107 yards. His route running has become a strength and Ben Roethlisberger has a lot of confidence in him.
What still follows Sweed are the easy drops. That appears to be the only thing that could hold Sweed back this season.
Wallace has shown exceptional speed downfield but he’s not ready to be a #3 wide out. He is still learning how to block at the NFL level and his route running needs to improve.
He has the speed to be a threat downfield in key situations and will be used in the offense when the Steelers are looking to stretch the field.
The Steelers want Sweed to be the teams #3 wide out and he will be when the season opens. Tomlin just isn’t ready to make Sweed comfortable.
He wants to keep the pressure on Sweed to keep working hard and improving as a player.
Adding veteran wide out Shaun McDonald to the roster was a smart move for the Steelers. He gives the Steelers some needed insurance, just in case of injuries or if Sweed and Wallace falter.
The wide receiver position was a major question mark heading in training camp. Now it has the look of being much improved than it was in 2008, where the Steelers #4 and #5 receivers had a combined 7 receptions.