The Pittsburgh Steelers could only avoid the rash of significant injuries to key players throughout the NFL this summer for so long. This past Thursday, wide receiver Plaxico Burress suffered a torn rotator cuff that will require surgery on Monday.
Burress, who was predicted to possibly be the Steelers’ fourth receiver this season, could be sidelined for the entire season. The absence of the 12-year veteran will make it more difficult for Pittsburgh’s passing game. The team will already be without two of their tight ends once the regular season starts.
Heath Miller is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, and it’s still up in the air when he’ll be ready to get back on the field. In addition, Matt Spaeth was diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury to his foot that could put him on the shelf for 8-10 weeks.
Having Burress, Miller, and Spaeth out of the equation, the Steelers will have limited options and big bodies in third-and-long and red-zone situations.
The only silver lining around this storm cloud is that the chances of 10-year veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery making the 53-man roster have increased. Rookie Markus Wheaton has made the competition for a receiving spot very stiff, but with the apparent need for reliable pass catchers, Cotchery looks to be safe from being cut this season.
As for Burress, this could not only put an end to his 2013 season, but it could also do the same for his football career. Burress, who will turn 36 on August 12 (which is the day of his shoulder surgery), showed a significant decline in his play in 2011 with the New York Jets by posting only 45 receptions for 612 yards. However, he was a scoring machine for Gang Green with eight touchdown catches. Furthermore, Burress barely played in the league in 2012 after being picked up by Pittsburgh in Week 12 and playing in only four of the last six games.
Regardless of his age, Pittsburgh will miss Burress this year. The Steelers’ current receiving corps and running game will have to step up big time in order to substitute for the loss of such a savvy offensive threat.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+