If you have been one of the lucky fans who has been to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout their training camp, you probably saw a little guy running around in pre-game warm ups wearing a white hard hat.
That little guy is wide receiver Eli Rogers, and there is a reason he is wearing that hard hat.
“I'm here to work hard,” Rogers told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That's it. That's all I want to display.”
Rogers, who emerged as a very good option for Ben Roethlisberger and the offense last year from the slot, is looking to build on his 2016 success and become a big part of the team’s offense in 2017. However, doing so won’t be easy. The Steelers wide receiver camp battle is going to be one of the most intense of all positions, and Rogers is fighting to keep his spot in three wide receiver sets.
Rogers’ main competition will likely be rookie, second round pick, JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has impressed throughout training camp. Throw in how Justin Hunter has been performing, along with second year receiver Demarcus Ayers, and suddenly Rogers’ guaranteed spot on the roster has become one which will require hard work. Hence the hard hat. But the competition doesn’t seem to phase the third year wide out from Louisville.
“They say it's a lot more competition now, so I guess that is what it is,” he said. “We've always had great receivers since I've been here. It's just another group of receivers competing.”
While Rogers has the benefit of knowing the offense, and having an already established rapport with Ben Roethlisberger, the hard hat is there to show he is going to put in the work to be better than last year.
In 2016, Rogers averaged 12.4 yards per catch and scored three touchdowns on 48 receptions. Not bad, but most would agree there is work which can still be done, and Rogers now sees the connection between the hard hat he dons at practice and the blue collar attitude which emanates from the Steel City.
“I didn't even think that far ahead at the time,” he said. “But once I got here, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I can to this because it correlates to the Steelers.' It's the Steel City and all the hard work that is here, this is a very hard-working city.”
Rogers, with Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, Antonio Brown and Smith-Schuster could turn out to be one very lethal offensive group for the black and gold in 2017. In the meantime, get your hard hat on and get ready to work!