Plaxico Burress: “ready to work, ready to play football” for Steelers
The 12th year veteran Burress has vowed to make the most of this opportunity and is confident that he can be a threat for the Steelers, especially in the red zone. Burress said he feels “blessed” that the Steelers had enough belief in him to offer him a one-year veteran’s minimum contract this offseason.
"[General manager] Kevin Colbert, [coach] Mike Tomlin and the Rooneys gave me an opportunity to still play football,” said Burress. “They have the confidence in me that I can still go out there and play and make an impact. I think that's the most important thing, when the opportunity comes I go out and deliver.”
Burress spent the first five-years of his career as a wide receiver with the Steelers after signing with the team as an eight-overall pick out of Michigan State in 2000. He combined 261 receptions for 4164 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first stint with the Steelers. However, Burress had a relatively quiet 2012 season, appearing in just four games for the Steelers during 2012, while posting three receptions for 42 yards and one touchdown after being signed by the team last November. A year prior, Burress posted his third-highest single season total with eight touchdown passes with the New York Jets in the 2011 season.
"I know I can still play. I know I can dominate in the red zone. Just go out and play at a high percentage. In those one-on-one opportunities, just succeed at a high rate. I know I can,” said Burress. “Being out there last year, I drew double coverage in the red zone without hardly playing. I think teams will have to respect that."
Although Burress’ role is expected to increase this season after Mike Wallace left the Steelers to sign with the Miami Dolphins during free agency, he will still be at the back end of the team’s depth chart at wide receiver. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are most likely to start. Burress’ main competition on for a roster spot will come from fellow veteran Jerricho Cotchery and Marcus Wheaton, the Steelers’ third-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Otherwise, Burress might have to convince the Steelers that it's worth carrying five receivers on the active roster after they took four into the 2012 season.
"My job is to just go out and catch the football," said Burress.
The 6-foot-5, 232-pound Burress’ career spiraled downhill after accidentaly shooting himself in the foot at a New York nightclub in November 2008. Burress finished that season with the New York Giants, recording 35 receptions for 454 yards and four touchdowns, but spent the next two seasons out of football after facing a 20-year sentence on gun charges.
"I lost two years but the main thing about it, I persevered through it when a lot of people thought I was finished,” said Burress. “Here I am three years removed from that and I'm still playing football. I wake up every day, I come in here with a fresh attitude, man, ready to work, ready to play football.”