The Pittsburgh Steelers had surprisingly high hopes for a small rookie undrafted free agent wide receiver a year ago by the name of Eli Rogers. Early in training camp, he even got the opportunity to take some reps with the first-team offense and Ben Roethlisberger. Even though he ended up suffering a foot injury prior to the first preseason game, a year later, Rogers is catching touchdown passes from him.
While this is technically considered his second season due to the fact that he spent his rookie year on injured reserve, he is, for all intents and purposes, a first-year player, and in some ways even a rookie, considering that he never even got a chance to play in the preseason a year ago.
He has had his share of peaks and valleys over the course of the year, with the valleys being nearly as notable as the peaks, but the young wide receiver has been on a pretty steady upward trajectory at a very important part of the season, while the Steelers are preparing to embark on a postseason run—and in need of a number two wide receiver.
Over the course of his past two games, against two divisional opponents, Rogers has caught nine passes for 164 yards and a touchdown, in addition to one carry on an end-around for six yards, which is something that he also got to do in the preseason.
That touchdown, which came against the Bengals, was a true thing of beauty, and also proved to be the game-winning score that allowed the Steelers to clinch the division on Sunday, a game in which he caught some big passes, including a 39-yarder, the longest of his career to date.
Coincidentally, he has had two of his best games against the Ravens, as in the first go-around, he caught a season-high six passes for 103 yards, his first, and to date only, 100-yard game. 10 catches for 187 yards in two games against the Ravens will get some attention.
Rogers has actually been limited to only 12 games on the season to date, as an ankle injury kept him out of two, and he was also benched for one game for disciplinary reasons that had his coaches talking about his maturity the next week. As mentioned, he had some valleys this year. You can add some miscommunications as well, one of which led to an interception early in the year.
But the peaks have been there as well, as he has caught 42 passes for 533 yards and three touchdowns through the turmoil, and with varying playing times and opportunities. Over a full season, that would look like 56 receptions for 711 yards and four touchdowns, which is a good start for a player who came from almost nowhere.
I suspect that he will receive extensive playing time in the season finale, with some starters resting ahead of the start of the postseason. It will serve as good preparation for Rogers to perhaps play a bigger role in a game beforehand, at a time in which they will need him to continue to step up as he has recently.