Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cotchery Takes on Leadership Position He's Elder Statesman among Young Wrs

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cotchery Takes on Leadership Position He's Elder Statesman among Young Wrs

Article excerpt

With 12 days left in his 20s and playing for a football team that has employed him less than a calendar year, it might be a stretch to bestow elder statesman status on Jerricho Cotchery.

But with the retirement of Hines Ward, that is the role Cotchery finds himself in as the oldest and most-seasoned member of an otherwise precocious Steelers wide receiving corps that is long on talent but relatively short on NFL experience.

If Antonio Brown, 24, and Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace, both 25, form the "Young Money" trio, does that make Cotchery the old codger at 29?

"He's still young. He's not old ... yet," the smiling Brown said of Cotchery.

"I am the veteran of the group," Cotchery said. "This is going on year nine. I've seen a lot of things in this league. Whatever it is - - game experience, contract situations, anything -- I've seen it all."

All, that is, except a Lombardi Trophy in his hands.

He said that is what brought him here last year after seven seasons with the New York Jets and was his primary motivation in April when he signed a new two-year, $3 million contract with the Steelers.

"I've had 1,000-yard seasons. I've had the numbers. I've had many other things, but I want to win a championship," Cotchery said. "Meeting the head coach and knowing what type of quarterback was here, that's what drew me here last year. ... I just love being here and I just wanted to come back to it."

Cotchery's first season as a Steeler was a strange one. He joined the team near the end of training camp, then sustained a hamstring injury in a preseason game that sidelined him the first three weeks of the regular season.

Upon his return, he saw limited action in the first half of the season, then played in fits and spurts over the second. When used, he had modest production in the fourth and fifth receiving spots, finishing with 237 yards on 16 catches and two touchdowns. …

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