Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/23/13
The Pittsburgh Steelers have found a new spark from an old player. Recently, veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery has been a real valuable asset to this team. Cotchery is a 10-year NFL veteran but this season has been his best since 2009. Cotchery has been with the Steelers for three seasons now and in his previous two years with the black and gold his numbers haven’t been anywhere close to what they are this season. In 2011 Cotchery had only 16 receptions and two touchdowns and in 2012 he only caught 17 passes and score zero touchdowns. Now in 2013 Cotchery has caught 34 passes and seven touchdowns. Even more mind boggling is that from 2009-2012 Cotchery had a combined seven touchdowns, obviously he’s on pace to shatter that by having seven touchdowns already this season. What’s making Cotchery stand-out this season? It’s a combination of things. Even though the Steelers still have wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emanuel Sanders, the loss of Mike Wallace is still evident. When Wallace was still in Pittsburgh the Steelers had the trifecta when it came to the receiving corpse. Now that Wallace is in Miami, Cotchery has emerged as a hidden tool in Ben Roethlisberger’s arsenal. Rookie Markus Wheaton is going to be a good boost to this team but in time so in the mean time, Cotchery has elevated himself into being the third receiver on this team. Wheaton’s missed some time due to injury and that’s held him back form making a bigger impact on this team. The veteran is certainly playing at a higher level than the rookie. The loss of Wallace isn’t the only reason Cotchery is making noise this season. Another reason is tight end Heath Miller. Miller has no doubt been Roethlisberger’s safety valve, favorite target or go-to-guy, whichever you prefer but that might have changed after last season. Miller’s major injury from last season kept the tight end out of this season for the first few weeks and it’s evident that Miller isn’t back to his normal self just yet. Since Miller isn’t back to top form, the door widened even more Cotchery to step up. Cotchery’s become Roethlisberger’s new safety blanket this season. Head coach Mike Tomlin added some insight as to why Cotchery is finding success. In the game against the Buffalo Bills, Cotchery scored the only touchdown through the air. Tomlin said that Cotchery found success due to the Bills’ defense putting tighter coverage on Miller. This could be the said for other teams as well, with Miller’s injury still lingering and teams giving him more attention all signs point to Cotchery picking up the slack. The Steelers and Cotchery will look to continue their success as they head to Cleveland to take on the Browns in an AFC North showdown. The Steelers need to keep winning, especially against divisional opponents, if they want to stay in playoff contention.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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