With Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers likely to miss the Sunday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a toe injury that suffered in this past weekend in the road loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the offense will now have to use a different player, or players, in the slot. On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that that shouldn’t be a problem when he addressed the media during his weekly press conference.
“We’ve got multiple options in that area,” said Tomlin. “Markus Wheaton has played there in the past and Darrius Heyward-Bey is very, very functionality in that area. We’ll start there with those two guys and go from there.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also isn’t worried about his offense suffering any by not having Rogers Sunday night against the Chiefs.
“We have guys who are veteran guys, even (Darrius) Heyward-Bey, who can fill in that spot,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday morning. “It does stink to lose a guy that has been your predominantly slot receiver and has done some really good things and has grown, but we have other guys we feel can step in and fill the void and be ready to move on.”
While Wheaton is likely to see the most time in the slot against the Chiefs should Rogers indeed wind up missing Sunday’s night game, he is coming off one of the worst games of his career as he dropped three passes against the Eagles and that included one early in the game in the end zone. With that said, Roethlisberger is confident that Wheaton will bounce back against the Chiefs in what will be just the second game he’s played in this season.
“I have been around Markus long enough. Our lockers are right next to each other. Just encourage him, let him know we are here for him,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday morning. “He is going to be harder on himself than anybody else is. Don’t need to bring him down anymore, just keep building him up and letting him know I have faith and trust in him.”
Regardless of who winds up playing the most in the slot Sunday night against the Chiefs, Roethlisberger said his wide receivers take pride in knowing how to play all of the positions in the offense.
“That is huge. I think that is awesome they have the confidence, we have it, I have it in them that they can fill in and jump into a spot and we don’t miss a beat,” Roethlisberger said on Wednesday.
Heading into Sunday’s game, Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey have combined to catch just two passes for 9 yards. Rogers, on the other hand, has registered 9 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown in the team’s first three games.