On Wednesday morning, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger joined the WDVE morning show in order to answer various questions from his offseason routine under the current conditions to his thoughts on the Steelers receivers this past season.
“I’m excited, obviously, to get back out there,” Roethlisberger replied when asked about what his return would bring to the Steelers offense this season. “I think the guys are. I’ve talked to quite a few of them to check in with them from time-to-time.”
Roethlisberger went on to explain what he saw from the Steelers young receivers during his time on the sidelines in 2020.
“I think we got to see some growth from guys. I thought Diontae really showed kind of what he’s capable of doing. I thought James Washington really took some big steps in terms of his conditioning. You kind of are able to see some of the small things when you’re on the sideline that you wouldn’t normally see when you’re in the huddle or on the field. I saw James Washington, on numerous occasions multiple times a game, run deep routes, obviously full-speed, looking for the ball, doesn’t get it, and he is like sprinting back to the huddle and then runs another route. He spent last offseason really putting his conditioning above, I think, pretty much everything else. I think it showed last year, and I think he’s going to continue to do that and he’s going to continue to grow and get better.”
It’s encouraging to hear Roethlisberger speak of the work ethic of James Washington. One concern as the season began in 2019 was the repertoire between the veteran quarterback and the second-year wide receiver. Washington had an exceptional preseason with the Steelers, but did not catch a pass from Roethlisberger. Hoping the two could continue to build some chemistry, Roethlisberger’s early exit in 2019 made the question impossible to answer.
After addressing both Diontae Johnson and James Washington, Ben Roethlisberger turned his attention to noting the positives from JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2019
“And I think one of the most impressive things which I saw on the sideline and had communication with him was JuJu,” Roethlisberger explained. “I think you saw a guy that wasn’t as productive as he wanted to be, and as he was expected to be, but he was still able to go out there and be a leader for guys. Guys in that receivers room— guys were still looking up to him and still talking to him. He was out there giving it everything he had. It’s not easy for guys to do, but he took a selfless mentality and attitude into last season. And I think it showed for guys like me that could really see it.”
It’s hard to argue against the fact Smith-Schuster struggled through injury and decreased production throughout the 2019 season. Hopefully a return to form of the franchise quarterback with which he has amassed over 2,000 receiving yards in his first two years in the NFL can help him have a bounce back year.
Roethlisberger was also asked if he was excited about his new tight end, Eric Ebron.
“I am. I’m excited for what he could potentially bring to us opposite Vance and kind of stretch the middle of the field. I’d like to do some stuff with him on the outside and maybe get some matchup opportunities that are favorable to us. So I can’t wait to get to work with him.”
Roethlisberger is not alone as all of Steelers’ Nation can’t wait to get the 2020 season underway. Between the young receivers and new weapon at tight end, it should be exciting to see how the Steelers offense well look with Rothlisberger returning to the huddle.