Another acrobatic 88 steps to the forefront

If Emmanuel Sanders keeps playing the way he has at training camp, it won't be long until Steelers fans see another high-flying rookie receiver.

LATROBE – The talk started soon after the draft.

"Special, special quickness," someone said about Emmanuel Sanders.

But, the concern was how the 5-11, 180-pounder from SMU would "carry his pads" at training camp.

It didn't take long for that worry to fade here. Sanders has been the rookie sensation on a team that appears to have several good ones, and the talk now deals with how soon he'll step into the lineup. It's already obvious that Sanders runs better routes than Mike Wallace, who was last year's team Rookie of the Year.

"Yeah, I'm hearing some buzz about me," said Sanders. "But at the same time I'm used to it. It happened at SMU. It happened here. But I can't let it get ahead of me. I have to continue what I've been doing and that's making plays."

Sanders made another acrobatic catch yesterday morning when he went way up to grab a Ben Roethlisberger fastball near the sideline. He came down with his feet in bounds to complete a play that would've made his number-sake, the former No. 88 Lynn Swann, proud.

But Sanders really didn't think much of the catch.

"That one I wouldn't say was easy," Sanders said. "But it was normal. I made some incredible catches in college."

Sanders said it ranked "fourth or fifth" on his training-camp catch list. The top one, he said, was the leaping touchdown catch of a Byron Leftwich pass during red-zone work earlier in the week.

Right now, Sanders is working behind Wallace at split end, but sees a slot position in his future.

"I think so and I hope so, but I'm not in control of that," Sanders said. "I'm just going to continue to make plays and hopefully the coaches see my hard work that I'm doing, and come the regular season I hope they have a spot for me somewhere."

Judging by the number of short passes and bubble screens thrown Sanders's way at this camp, the Steelers are planning to take advantage of his run-after-catch skills. But Sanders is dreaming bigger dreams, such as "running out of that tunnel and seeing all those Terrible Towels wave," he said. "I see me running a post down the middle, Byron or whoever's in there hitting me on a deep post, me scoring, and seeing everyone going crazy."

In the first preseason game?

"Yes, sir, I hope so. I pray."


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