Second year wide receiver Justin Brown is looking at a familiar situation this summer. He’ll be on the roster bubble, fighting for the remaining receiver spot on the depth chart. With a year on the practice squad under his belt, he’s in a better position now than he was last year. According to various reports, he performed well at OTA’s, and coaches took notice.
Brown was running with first team receivers these past few weeks at OTA’s, and the 6’3″ receiver knows the significance of that. “It is definitely good getting some reps with the ones,” Brown said. “When my number is called, I am just trying make sure that I’m ready and I know what I am doing. I’ve noticed (the coaches see what I’m doing), and it’s definitely encouraging.”
Justin Brown was drafted by the Steelers in the 6th round last year. In 2012, Brown totaled 75 receptions for 879 yds, including 5 touchdowns, and amassed over 200 yards in punt returns. While not one to get separation at the top of his route with elusive speed, he demonstrated frequently that he was an instinctual hands catcher, and used his long frame to attack the ball in the air. Even though he transferred from Penn State after the 2011 season, he quickly became Landry Jones’ go to chain moving target.
Brown’s friend and former teammate at Penn State- Derek Moye- is his biggest competition this summer for a roster spot. “We’re all out here competing, we’re all out here trying to get better,” Brown said via ESPN. “Derek’s my boy so there’s no hard feelings at all. We’re always trying to help each other out with our games.”
Moye made the 53 man roster last year, but saw a very limited amount of playing time (53 snaps). He echoed Justin Brown’s sentiments. “It’s going to be a good competition. At the same time we’re out there helping each other out, making sure we all push each other to be better.”
Both Brown and Moye were putting in extra time working out with Ben Roethlisberger back in February, as was Markus Wheaton. While OTA’s are just ‘football in shorts’, it certainly seems like the extra work is paying off in Brown’s case. The wide receiver position battle is going to be a very interesting one to watch in August.