Cotchery Turns Up Heat

Jerricho Cotchery doesn't have a defined role with the Steelers just yet, but he's already turned up the heat among his colleagues, according to Mike Prisuta.

The apparent logjam at the wide receiver position that seemingly made the potential acquisition of Plaxico Burress a better story than it would have been a fit for the Steelers was waiting for Jerricho Cotchery upon his return to St. Vincent College.

With Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and super sophomores Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown already in place, where's another wide receiver going to play?

But the Steelers don't look at it that way.

They would have welcomed Burress with open arms.

As they have Cotchery.

The new guy has started well down on the depth chart. Ward, Wallace, Brown and Tyler Grisham were the top four receivers during a Sunday afternoon third-down drill. Cotchery caught passes from Byron Leftwich.

But the word around campus is the wide receiver room has suddenly become "hot" upon Cotchery's arrival.

And that's how wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery wants it.

"I like the room to be hot from the standpoint that I like everyone looking over their shoulder," Montgomery said. "I like everyone to feel the next man breathing down their throat. It makes the competition in the room go to a higher level. And that's what this business is about, competing at the highest level at all times.

"No one can take a play or a day off because they know that the room is exceptionally hot."

Sanders' mantra during the Burress' flirtation was that anybody who could help get the Steelers back to a Super Bowl and win it was coveted. And in Sanders' estimation Cotchery qualifies as that, no matter how his addition eventually affects the rotation at the wide receiver position.

"Like Coach Montgomery says, ‘The wide receiver room is hot right now,'" Sanders said. "That's how you want it on the team. You always want competition in every room. For me, I believe in my talent so I never worry about who they bring in.

"Guys aren't really worried about the receiving room. It's all about getting back to the Super Bowl. There's no room for jealousy. There's no room for any of that. There's competition, but at the end of the day guys are singularly focused on themselves and making plays out here. They're not worried about the competition because if you're worried about another man, then all is bad because you should be focused on yourself."

In Cotchery, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians initially sees a third-down receiver in the Ward mold. And in Arians' opinion, "we need two of those.

"He'll find his roll," Arians continued. "That's what we told him when we brought him here, ‘Show me what you can do and we'll find a spot for you.'

"He's a grimy, tough guy that plays well over the middle. He'll block you; he plays the dirty part very, very well. He's what you're looking for in those slots. Catch the ball between the numbers with a body hanging all over you, getting beat up, beating somebody back up."

Added Ward, "There'll come a time, he's gonna win a game for us."

Cotchery failed to do that for the Jets in the AFC Championship Game (5 receptions for 33 yards and a TD). But he was the wide receiver the Jets targeted more times (8) than they did Braylon Edwards (7) and Santonio Holmes (5).

Coach Mike Tomlin was more impressed with Cotchery's 5-catch, 96-yard postseason effort against the Patriots.

"Specifically I thought he played a great football game in the divisional round up in New England," Tomlin said.

"We look forward to him bringing his veteran savvy to our group."

Cotchery's mere presence has already turned up the heat.

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