The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has been hyped up to be one of the best offenses in the NFL coming into the 2016 season. Even with suspensions to Le’Veon Bell (three games) and Martavis Bryant (season), the Steelers offense still promises to put up big numbers this season. Second year wide receiver, Eli Rogers, has shown that he is willing to step up in Bryant’s absence and be a dependable target for Ben Roethlisberger. With star wide receiver Antonio Brown drawing most of the opposing defense’s attention, Rogers could have a breakout season.
Eli Rogers Could Shine in the Pittsburgh Steelers Offense
Rogers was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Steelers last year, after playing his college football for the Louisville Cardinals. Rogers ended up being placed on injured reserve last season after suffering a broken foot during training camp. So far this preseason, Rogers has shown what he is capable of. The talented receiver has even played alongside the starters and has shown that he belongs.
Rogers By the Numbers
So far this preseason, Rogers has seven receptions for 64 yards. While those numbers may not necessarily raise eyebrows, anyone watching the games can see what a presence he has on the field. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Rogers had his best game of the preseason with four receptions for 39 yards, giving him a nice average of nine yards per reception. More importantly than his skills as a receiver is the fact that Rogers has also been named the team’s punt returner by head coach Mike Tomlin.
Steelers Depth at Wide Receiver
Ahead of Rogers on the depth chart at wide receiver are: Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant (suspended), Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Even though Rogers is listed as the sixth receiver on the depth chart, he’s all but wrapped up a spot on the roster since he’s been named the punt returner. Brown has shown that he has the skills to return punts, but the coaches likely don’t want him to take any extra chances of getting injured. It’ll be interesting to see if Rogers also returns kickoffs as well as punts, since Tomlin has shown over the years that he prefers having a running back return kickoffs.
With Bryant out, Rogers moves up to the fifth spot on the depth chart at wide receiver. Another unfortunate injury would move Rogers up into the fourth spot and the Steelers love to spread the field on offense, especially when running the hurry-up offense. With Brown and Heyward-Bey on the outside, Wheaton and Rogers will play the slot positions. Extra attention focused on Brown, as well as Bell and/or DeAngelo Williams coming out of the backfield, will free up Wheaton and Rogers over the middle. The number of weapons that the Steelers have on offense ensures that someone will always have a linebacker or defensive lineman covering them.
The relative unknown factor of Rogers will help him succeed even more. NFL defenses won’t key on him and he’ll slip through the middle of the defense over and over until he starts being recognized. Rogers will likely have a linebacker or defensive lineman lined up across from him more than any other receiver. Even with all of the suspensions and injuries plaguing the Steelers offense, there is no lack of talent. Rogers will gladly step up and fill the void left by Bryant and Bell, as well as newly acquired Ladarius Green. Look for Rogers to become yet another highly successful wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers.