With Markus Wheaton remaining sidelined due to a rumoured quad injury and Sammie Coates having a disastrous preseason, the number three spot on the wide receiver depth chart is more open than ever. This has not gone unnoticed to second year wideout Eli Rogers, who is making a serious push for the third wide receiver spot this preseason.
At 5’10 and 187 lbs, Rogers possesses the makeup of a quality slot receiver – a position that he has flashed immense potential at in preseason games against the Detroit Lions & Philadelphia Eagles. Re watching Rogers’game tape from the Lions & Eagles , Rogers has showcased why the Steelers decided to keep Rogers on the IR last season instead of opting for an injury settlement.
Facing a 3rd & 3, Rogers (right side of formation) flashes a quick jab step to his right before cutting across the middle. Creating tons of separation, Landry Jones hits Rogers in stride to pick up the first down. Unfortunately, this play would be negated by a penalty on Pittsburgh’s offensive line.
Rogers, once again in the slot is seen coming across the middle on 3rd & 13. Like the previous gif, Rogers has separation on his corner and indicates to Landry Jones to hit him in stride. Jones, instead forces a risky throw that is almost intercepted and ultimately dropped by Darrius Heyward-Bey.
This play may be the most notable on Roger’s tape vs the Lions. Rogers (in the slot on the right) picks up on the corner blitz and hot routes to an out route. Rogers finds himself open on the sideline but instead Jones decides to make another highly difficult throw to Jesse James in the middle of the field.
In his usual slot position, Rogers puts on his best Antonio Brown impression on the play above. With a quick jab step to the outside, Rogers is able to catch Kyle Van Noy off balance which allows him to gain separation. Rogers is not done here, as he jukes out the next defender in his path before being tackled.
Although Rogers did enjoy a solid game against the Detroit Lions, there is always room for improvement. Here, Rogers whiffs on a block during a Sammie Coates screen pass. With blocking being a big factor in Pittsburgh’s wide receiver depth chart selection (remember Justin Brown?), it is sure to say that Mike Tomlin will be hoping to see more contribution in blocking from Rogers.
Quick to build off his big game against the Lions, Rogers quickly converts a 3rd & 3 for the Steelers. Coming across the middle, Landry Jones puts the ball in a tight window and Rogers secures it for a first down. A highly encouraging play, considering the numerous drops that plagued the Steelers this preseason.
Facing 2nd and a long 19, the Steelers put the ball in the hands of Eli Rogers on a screen play in which he takes for 13 yards. It’s a case of turning nothing into something, as Rogers uses his blockers and nifty feet to get to the outside and turn a decent gain. A key block from Jesse James also helps set up this play.
Another quick jab step, allows Rogers to freeze corner Ron Brooks just long enough to give Landry Jones a window to fit the ball in. Rogers secures the catch and turns up field, falling just one shoelace tackle short of being off to the races. This is Rogers’ second 3rd down conversion of the game, an area that the Steelers struggled down the stretch last season.
As seen above, Rogers is making a knack for getting the ball when the Steelers offense is faced with 3rd down. On a highly improbable 3rd and 17, Rogers runs a quick hook pattern and is unable to make two defenders miss before squeezing forward for an extra 4 yards, falling just short of the marker. This would be Rogers’ final catch against the Eagles finishing with 4 receptions for 39 yards.
Rogers has shined in the first half of the 2016 preseason, outperforming both Sammie Coates & Darrius Heyward-Bey. Rogers may of already secured a roster spot based upon his performances against the Lions & Eagles and is perhaps just another two quality preseason games away from securing the Steelers third spot on the wide receiver depth chart. In the absence of Martavis Bryant, it is not Sammie Coates or Markus Wheaton silencing the worries among Steelers Nation but instead it is the unlikely and undrafted Eli Rogers that has given Steelers Nation a glimpse of reason for optimism.