Steelers vs. Chargers: Who steps up at wideout?


The Pittsburgh Steelers roll into Week 5’s Monday Night Football matchup with the San Diego Chargers at 2-2 despite never being close to full strength this season.

First, Pittsburgh missed Le’Veon Bell for two games due to a suspension. In the game that he returned Ben Roethlisberger went down with a sprained MCL. Also, the Steelers have yet to see number two wide receiver Martavis Bryant on the field in 2015.

I was hoping to see Bryant make his season debut tonight in San Diego, but apparently that’s not going to happen. According to NFL fantasy analyst Michael Fabiano, Bryant tweaked his knee in practice this week and is unlikely to play:

It’s a shame on a number of levels and frustrating for Steelers fans. Bryant established a really solid connection with Michael Vick in the limited preseason action we saw and he’s easily the best red-zone target on Pittsburgh’s roster.

What does that mean for Monday night’s game?

First of all, we should probably expect to see more from Bell and DeAngelo Williams because the Chargers are one of the NFL’s worst teams when it comes to defending the run. Through four games they have given up 126.8 yards on the ground on average, which ranks 28th.

But grounding and pounding will only work so long. Eventually Vick is going to have to air it out, so the real question is who is going to step up at wide receiver?

We can safely assume that San Diego will focus most of their attention on stopping Antonio Brown, so somebody else is going to have to make a splash. There are two main candidates that I can think of right off the bat: Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Wheaton has caught eight passes this year for 156 yards on 15 targets. That’s pretty efficient and my gut says he’s the guy Vick should look for, but he’s also battling an ankle injury so he’s not 100 percent.

On the other hand, Heyward-Bey has 185 receiving yards on 20 targets and has scored two touchdowns.

Rookie Sammie Coates is another option but he’s still very raw.

I’m not sure which one of these receivers is going to step up tonight. All I know is that if none of them do the Steelers are looking at a serious uphill battle.

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