Cotchery high on Steelers receivers

To fans fretting over how the Pittsburgh Steelers' passing game will overcome the loss of Mike Wallace, Jerricho Cotchery offers this message: Have a little faith in the team’s brain trust.

“One year they’re trading away Santonio Holmes and they’ve got Mike Wallace waiting in the wings,” the veteran wide receiver said. “They prepare for situations like that, so you have to give the organization credit for drafting guys, developing guys. We’ve got guys that are more than capable, man.”

They'd better, because the Steelers lost one of the top deep threats in the NFL when Wallace broke the bank and signed with the Miami Dolphins last March.

Consider that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed 73 passes that were at least 30 yards over the past four seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information, tied for eighth in the NFL during that span. Nearly half of those (36) were caught by Wallace.

Antonio Brown becomes the Steelers’ No. 1 receiver and should also provide Roethlisberger with a deep threat. Emmanuel Sanders, meanwhile, isn’t lacking for confidence as he takes over for Wallace at split end.

“I felt like last year I was starting,” said Sanders, who caught 44 passes for 626 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers’ No. 3 wideout in 2012. “Toward the middle of the season, we were really a three-wide receiver team if you go back and watch the film.”

That bodes well for Cotchery increasing his playing time and production, each of which fell off considerably after he signed with the Steelers in 2011.

Cotchery has 33 receptions in two seasons in the Steelers after averaging more than 66 catches a year from 2006-2010 with the Jets.

The 10th-year veteran should get plenty of snaps this season as the No. 3 wide receiver, and Cotchery will be particularly important on third down.

“I said I’ve been resting for two years,” he said with a chuckle. “But I’m ready to do the job. I’ve been preparing for it. I spent the offseason getting my body right and all of that stuff.”

Cotchery is the graybeard of a young group that also includes rookie Markus Wheaton and Derek Moye, in his second year out of college.

One thing that has impressed Cotchery is the workmanlike approach Brown and Sanders have taken with each expected to play bigger roles in the offense.

“It all started in the offseason and they haven’t swayed from it one bit," Cotchery said. "I know the coaches appreciate it. We’re a tight group and I just like the (wide receivers meeting) room. Just a hard-working group.”