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Thread: Young Steelers receivers needed to get some tough love from Ben

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    Default Young Steelers receivers needed to get some tough love from Ben

    Young Steelers receivers needed to get some tough love from Ben Roethlisberger to play to potential
    BY Manish Mehta
    Saturday, February 5th 2011, 4:00 AM

    DALLAS - Ben Roethlisberger didn't sugarcoat the message to his young wide receivers: Get with the program or get out.

    Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace got the message loud and clear.

    For all the marquee names that will play in Super Bowl XLV on Sunday, the Steelers' relatively unknown trio of wideouts may steal the show.

    "I have a lot of faith and trust in those guys that they are going to make plays for us," Roethlisberger said. "I can't say enough about how proud I am of those guys, the way they step up in big situations."

    Roethlisberger made sure nothing was lost in translation early on. Wallace overcame many of the growing pains last season, but Sanders and Brown were lost as rookies in training camp. Sanders, a third-round pick from SMU, and Brown, a sixth-rounder from Central Michigan, received tough love from their star quarterback.

    "It was shaky at first," Sanders said. "Antonio and I really didn't know the playbook at all. Ben was kind of hard on us at first. He used to always tell us, 'Look, we're going to need you guys in the playoffs.'"

    It was an especially big learning curve for Brown, who left school a year early.

    "At first, it was really hard," Brown admitted. "Ben's got signals that he gives you. You've got to be able to process them and do the route. If you're not processing those signals, it's like, 'Get out of here. Move out of the way.' It's just something you have to learn to let him know that you're on the same page and you take it seriously."

    Wallace filled the void left by Santonio Holmes' departure with 1,257 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

    It took much longer for Sanders and Brown to find their places in Pittsburgh's offense. Sanders was inactive for the first three games before becoming part of the receiver rotation. He had season highs in yards (78) and catches (seven) against the Jets in Week 15. Brown was inactive in seven of the first 11 games before making a difference in recent weeks.

    "The more and more the season went on, the more and more they gained confidence and the more and more Ben had confidence in them to make plays," veteran Hines Ward said. "They just stepped up each time their number was called. There's going to be a point in this game where not only myself, but the younger guys will have to step up big and make plays. We have all the confidence in the world that they'll do it."

    "They always had the talent," Wallace said of Sanders and Brown. "It was just a matter of getting their minds right. It's just about being comfortable. Once those guys found their comfort zone, it became easier to trust them."

    Brown has been the biggest surprise of them all with 14 of his 16 regular-season catches in the final five games. He made a pair of pivotal grabs in the playoffs that helped the Steelers reach the Super Bowl. Brown's nifty 58-yard catch on fourth-and-20 late in the fourth quarter helped Pittsburgh beat the Ravens in the divisional playoffs. His 14-yard catch picked up a critical first down that sealed the win over the Jets in the AFC Championship Game.

    "You've got to be patient," Brown said. "Patience builds humility. It strengthens your character. I just stayed ready and prepared when my opportunity came. It was some key catches in some great moments. But we still have some work to do."

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    Default Re: Young Steelers receivers needed to get some tough love from Ben

    Boy it's nice to have weapons like these guys and to have Ward around another year to impart more of his wisdom on them.
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    Default Re: Young Steelers receivers needed to get some tough love from Ben

    Steelers rookie Brown overcomes difficult past

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Antonio Brown
    Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

    What can Brown do for you?

    Antonio Brown has come up big for the Steelers in two postseason games. Here is a look at how the rookie receiver has fared this season:

    Regular season: 9 games, 16 receptions, 167 yards, 10.4 average, 26-yard long, 0 TDs; 17 kick returns, 397 yards, 23.4 average, 89-yard long, 1 TD

    Postseason: 2 games, 4 receptions, 89 yards, 22.3 average, 58-yard long, 0 TDs; 7 kick returns, 153 yards, 21.9 average, 27-yard long, 0 TDs

    DALLAS The biggest stage in sports won't faze Steelers rookie receiver Antonio Brown.

    That is because of what it took for him to get to Super Bowl XLV.

    Brown is not only a former walk-on at Central Michigan; the guy who has given the offense a jolt during the past month was homeless for a couple of months as a 16-year-old.

    "I've been fighting for my life before and sleeping in cars and trying to find a place to lay my head," Brown said. "I've had situations where I've had nowhere to go. This is the easy part. I overcame life."

    Brown, who has turned in two of the biggest catches of the postseason, arguably has come further than anyone who will suit up for the 6:30 p.m. game Sunday.

    He grew up in a rough section of Miami, and, while he was in high school, his mother married. Brown didn't get along with his stepfather.

    "There came a point where my mom had to make a decision, and it was best for me to go," Brown said. "I wanted her to be happy, and as a young man I had to spread my wings and fly myself."

    He easily could have followed some of his close friends into the vortex of crime and drugs. But when he hung out on the street corner, it was usually because he had nowhere else to go after football practice not because he wanted to make a score.

    Brown said he never went hungry or wanted for shelter. But the Steelers' primary kickoff returner sometimes would get a hotel room for a couple of hours, money permitting, just so he could sleep in a bed.

    "I did what I had to do to survive. I never sold drugs," Brown said. "I always had good support from the people who knew me. I didn't take the wrong road. I just take that on the field and use it as fuel to be great."

    The 2010 draft may also drive him.

    Brown lasted until late in the sixth round despite leaving Central Michigan he earned a scholarship two weeks into his first preseason camp as the school's all-time leading receiver.

    The 5-foot-10, 186-pounder may have scared off teams by turning in a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. When asked if he simply picked the wrong time to have a bad day, Brown flashed his engaging smile.

    "I didn't run in a straight line," said Brown, who left college after his junior season. "I swerved really bad."

    The Steelers didn't get a chance to time Brown again, and they were fortunate he was on the board for the second of their two sixth-round picks.

    "He was too good to pass up," Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said.

    Brown not only made the team, but he also accounted for three of the biggest plays of the season.

    An 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in September and a third-down reception late in the AFC Championship Game bookend a 58-yard catch against the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 16.

    "That guy has made some big-time plays for them," Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins said.

    "I love him," veteran receiver Hines Ward said.

    Brown will get some love from an unlikely place tomorrow: the prison where his close friend, Jeff Anderson, is serving time for robbery.

    The two grew up together in Miami and were teammates in little league football.

    Brown stays in touch with Anderson to offer words of encouragement, and the two talked recently.

    "He said he's going to get the whole cell riled up Sunday just to see me play," Brown said.

    While plenty of folks will be rooting for Brown from afar, his brothers, Eddie and Desmond, will be in the stands at Cowboys Stadium. Desmond, the youngest of the three, is a student at Pitt and lives with Antonio.

    The two are a long way from Miami.

    "Now I'm coming home to a nice house and seeing my little brother smiling," Brown said. "It's amazing.

    Brown paused and reflected on the path he took to get here.

    "This is the easy part," he said. "This is icing on the cake."

    Read more: Steelers rookie Brown overcomes difficult past - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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    Default Re: Young Steelers receivers needed to get some tough love from Ben



    For the ninth edition of Beyond The Wall, we sat down with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown at a Steelers Media Session prior to Super Bowl XLV. Brown’s father, Eddie Brown, played for the Albany Firebirds (AFL) from 1994-01. When the team moved to Indianapolis in 2001, Brown played with the Indianapolis Firebirds until 2003.

    In January 2006, when the League celebrated its 20th anniversary, Brown was voted the best player in AFL history.

    Brown was also successful in coaching his son in becoming an NFL caliber player. In only his rookie season, Antonio shined and rallied his team to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, TX.

    EDITOR: Antonio, thanks for joining us today! First and foremost, good luck on Sunday. You are having an outstanding rookie year. Tell me a little about your relationship with your father and the Arena Football League.

    ANTONIO BROWN: I stayed with my dad when I was in the third grade.I went to school in Albany, New York and had the chance to watch him practice some days. I also had the chance to go to a lot of his games. It was something special and motivating; seeing him run out to practice with his teammates and doing extra gassers. That pride and motivation was fuel to me.

    ED: Did you ever get the opportunity to run routes on the 50-yard Arena Football League field?

    AB: Definitely. My dad always had a ball around me and kept me busy. He really kept me involved with athletics and it really helped me get to where I am now.

    ED: What did your father teach you about the Arena Football League game and which of these skills are you using now?

    AB: Work ethic and motivation. He taught me if I wanted to be the best, I need to outwork my opponent. He taught me to do the little things to get better and to separate myself from opponents.

    ED: How else did he coach you while playing the wide receiver position?

    AB: He always coached me up at receiver and was a critic to my game. He came to the combine, watched me run routes and evaluated how I looked. He has always there and a part of it. He gave me insight of what I could work at.

    ED: What are your thoughts of the Arena game?

    AB: It’s a great game. My dad said he saw it as his NFL. He was voted the greatest player ever to play the game. He just wanted to see me use the NFL the way he used the AFL.

    ED: Antonio, thanks for joining us today. Good luck against the Green Bay Packers on Super Bowl Sunday!

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