Every year when the Pittsburgh Steelers head to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, there is a player who stands out among the rest. This player isn’t usually a regular, as fans already know what to expect from the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Cameron Heyward, but typically a younger player who is making a name for himself.
Anthony Chickillo did just that as a rookie in 2015, and this year it was Eli Rogers who was the apple of fans’ eyes during their time in the hills of western Pennsylvania. Fans, and media, drooled over his route running ability, and his uncanny likeness to one Antonio Brown.
High praise for the second year receiver from Louisville, who went undrafted in 2015. The thought of Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey taking the top off opposing defenses, Ladarius Green and Jesse James working the seam routes, and Rogers doing his best work over the middle of the field, all to give Brown more work to operate, seemed almost too good to be true.
And for the most part, it has been just that — too good to be true.
Whether you are referring to Green’s bum ankle, Markus Wheaton’s shoulder injury, Sammie Coates’ lacerated finger, or Rogers’ turf toe which had him miss two games, the depth at wide receiver has been tested. Cobi Hamilton was making plays in Week 7 vs. the New England Patriots, which says a lot, but Rogers was healthy for that game. Yet he didn’t register a single snap on offense, essentially being a healthy scratch.
When the Steelers didn’t have a completely healthy Coates, they went with Heyward-Bey and Hamilton over Rogers. For those who follow the team closely, you were probably wondering why this took place. The problem is there are only small pieces to try to piece together to figure out just what kept Rogers off the field.
Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Rogers told Pittsburgh media it was a “coach’s decision”. In other words, he was healthy, but the team didn’t feel he was prepared to play.
While on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan, Ben Roethlisberger elaborated more on the absence of Rogers, suggesting he needs to “stay focused”.
"That's what's so upsetting about him not being on the field -- we want him to be out there because I see what he can bring to this offense," Roethlisberger said. "We just need him to be out there."
Regardless of what is keeping Rogers off the field, he might want to address those issues as soon as possible. The team will likely welcome back Markus Wheaton sooner than later, Coates’ hand will heal, and Cobi Hamilton has done nothing but make plays when his number was called since being activated to the team’s 53-man roster.
The curious case of Eli Rogers has one silver lining..he has plenty of time, 9 games to be exact, to rectify the situation.