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Re-signings fortify Steelers' depth at several positions

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Posted April 15, 2012 @ 12:46 a.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

The Steelers, who sat out the first wave of free agency, made a series of re-signings this week to help their depth. For starters, Jerricho Cotchery’s return gives Pittsburgh an enviable quartet at wide receiver. Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are the most frequent targets at the position, but the Steelers’ ability to spread the field is one of their edges, with Cotchery and fellow reserve Emmanuel Sanders able to make a material impact even in limited touches. Cotchery caught just 16 passes in 13 games in 2011, but he hauled in a pair of regular-season TDs and scored one in the playoff loss at Denver.

The Steelers also brought back reserve OG Trai Essex, a one-time starter who has also played center and tackle and enters his eighth season with Pittsburgh.

They also signed their first veteran unrestricted free agent from another club, adding former Chiefs TE Leonard Pope, who played for now-Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley in Kansas City and Arizona. The 6-8, 264-pound Pope is a big target who moves fairly well. The Steelers’ TE depth entering the season was something of an issue with TE Weslye Saunders reportedly facing a four-game NFL suspension.

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