WR Limas Sweed eyeing breakthrough with Steelers
Limas Sweed tried not to pay attention when the Pittsburgh
Steelers unsuccessfully courted Plaxico Burress a week ago.
Sure, Sweed heard all the chatter about how the Steelers needed
a big wide receiver to complement the swift if undersized quartet
of Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio
The fourth-year pro nods his head when asked if there was a part
of him that wanted to raise his hand and say, ”remember me? I’m
6-foot-4. I can run. I can catch. I can play.”
Yet he understands why he’s become a forgotten man at best and a
draft bust at worst. Struggle as the former Texas star has since
being taken in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft and it’s hard
to avoid labels such as ”injury-prone” and ”underachiever.”
He has all of seven receptions in three years, only one since
Thanksgiving 2008. He was put on injured reserve in 2009 after
being diagnosed with depression and missed all of last season when
he tore the Achilles tendon in his left leg in minicamp.
Was it tough? Of course. Has he given any real indication during
his underwhelming career that he can be an impact player? Not
really. Yet he remains upbeat, a sign the emotional distress he
went through two years ago is behind him.
Still, he’s only too happy to remind critics he’s 26, not 46.
There’s still time to turn things around.
”I’m ready to show them I’m that guy,” Sweed said. ”I’m that
big guy and fill in the way they want me to fill in.”
Pittsburgh could certainly use a receiver with Sweed’s skill
set, particularly the skill that comes with being 6-4 and having a
37-inch vertical leap. Wallace, Ward and company can do fast. They
can’t do big. Sweed can, though he knows he’ll have to do it now if
he wants the breakthrough to happen while he’s wearing
”I have a chip on my shoulder,” he said. ”I feel like I have
something to prove to the coaches and to myself and I’m ready to be
here and I’m ready to play. It’s just a matter of time and a matter
of it showing.”
Sweed certainly casts an imposing figure. Standing on the
practice field the same weekend Burress was visiting camp looking
for a deal, a couple of fans saw the tall guy wearing the No. 80
jersey and shouted ”Plaxico!” ”Plaxico!”
Never mind that it wasn’t Burress but Sweed, who just laughed
when asked about it.
”I didn’t hear them,” Sweed said.
Then again, there are worse receivers to be compared to, and
Sweed has shown brief flashes of turning the corner during the
opening 10 days of camp. Sweed outjumped two members of the
Pittsburgh secondary for a deep ball during a seven-on-seven drill
last weekend only to grab his left hamstring has he sprinted toward
the end zone.
He sat out a couple of days before returning to the field only
to head back to the trainer’s room with a shoulder sprain. Asked
about Sweed’s progress, coach Mike Tomlin says, ”I’m here to talk
about the guys that are working, not those that aren’t.”
That’s just the way Tomlin is. And besides, the first week of
camp has shown that Sweed isn’t the only potential big target in
Like Sweed, former West Virginia wide receiver Wes Lyons is long
and lean. Unlike Sweed, the 6-8 Lyons isn’t hindered by outlandish
expectations. He went undrafted in 2010 and didn’t make it out of
training with the New York Jets last summer
While Lyons doesn’t have blazing speed he’s caught just about
everything that’s come his way while working with the reserves.
”I’m just trying to do whatever they ask,” Lyons said. ”It’s
pretty much meetings and lots of film work trying to catch
He and Sweed better hurry. There are currently 11 receivers in
camp, with spots guaranteed to Ward, Wallace, Sanders and Brown.
Veteran Arnaz Battle is likely to secure a roster spot because of
his contributions on special teams.
That leaves Sweed, Lyons and practice squad leftover Tyler
Grisham as the top candidates to grab a slot at the bottom of the
Sweed says he’s fully healed from the Achilles injury and the
hamstring issue is just one of those things that pops up in camp.
He’s spent too much time away from the game to let a cramp stop
”The (NFL) lockout, it felt like a lifetime,” he said. ”Now
that it’s over with and I’m back out here running with the team
it’s just a great feeling.”
One he hopes doesn’t fade too quickly.