With less than 1:55 remaining in the first half, and trailing by 10 points, the Landry Jones-led offense needed someone to rise to the occasion and help the Steelers score before the end of the half. Enter third-year receiver Eli Rogers. Throughout training camp, head coach Mike Tomlin worked extensively on this scenario. But in this particular case, Tomlin wanted to see how his backup quarterback would perform under these circumstances.
3rd & 5 (1:55 remaining)
Following a failed deep pass intended for receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jones and the offense were facing third down. Rogers is seen lined up across from Colts cornerback Nate Hairston. At the snap, Rogers makes a slight delay at the beginning of his route, causing Hairston to go slightly off balance and creating the space needed to make the reception for a much-needed first down. Rogers’ hesitation step at the beginning of his route is a sample of how Antonio Brown’s tutelage has helped him become a more effective route runner.
2nd & 6 (43 seconds remaining)
Following the first-down reception by tight end Jesse James and a 4-yard gain by Heyward-Bey, the Steelers load the box on the right side with three receivers. Rogers takes a bit of an outside angle and runs the slant inside for a 14-yard reception, placing them in field-goal range. Credit in this case goes to running back Knile Davis for picking up the blitz to allow Jones the time needed to make the throw.
2nd & 10 (20 seconds remaining)
In this sequence, following a failed deep pass attempt by Jones to receiver Martavis Bryant, the Steelers still had enough time to continue the drive. From the snap, the Colts come with the B-gap blitz, which is picked up by Davis. Seen coming from the top, Rogers makes a slight delay before running his slant route inside. As in the case of his first reception in the two-minute drill, his delay at the snap afforded him the space needed to make a clean reception and run out of bounds to extend the drive. The Steelers eventually settled for the field goal before the end of the half.
Overall, Rogers had a strong showing against the Colts, leading all receivers with five receptions for 58 yards. It’s evident from watching Rogers in the two-minute drill, that he’s become a more effective route runner by adding aspects of deception to his arsenal. Even though the Steelers possess a stable of big-time receivers, Rogers is the type of receiver the Steelers need to extend drives and give them more opportunities to put points on the board.