We won’t know for certain until tomorrow at about three o’clock, but from what we have heard leading into the Chiefs game, the plan seems to be to give third-year wide receiver Eli Rogers a helmet after he sat the past two weeks for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Working under the assumption that that is true, then, it would be hard exactly to fathom exactly what sort of role will be carved out for him upon his return. When you consider the fact that the wide receiver who replaced him on the active list, Justin Hunter, only saw a handful of snaps in each game and about four or five targets combined, it would be hard to envision much of a robust role.
The last time that Rogers dressed was back in week three in Chicago, and in that game, he only saw about 20 snaps and did not receive a single target in the passing game. But it would be unfair to deny a few of the quality catches in the first two games of the season.
On the other hand, there were also the multiple instances of clear miscommunication between himself and Ben Roethlisberger, which is something that we saw with relative frequency last year as well. Not that the quarterback has necessarily been particularly consistent so far this season when targeting anybody.
I think the bigger question may be whether or not the Steelers put him back on punt returns. The punt return unit was unable to accomplish anything of note with Antonio Brown back there for the past two weeks, so it’s not as though it would be putting a cork in a productive venture.
My current thinking is that he will be put back on punt returns, which may be the primary catalyst for his returning to games over Hunter, or at least a major factor. The Steelers initially benched him because he muffed the first punt of the game against the Bears.
But they left him back in there returning punts for the remainder of that game, so it’s not as though they became suddenly opposed to the idea. Head Coach Mike Tomlin has also been pretty clear for the past couple of weeks that his inactive status was not meant to be taken as a demotion, but more of an opportunity to grow and reacquaint himself with some fundamentals.
Fundamentally, though, there may not be a lot of work for him when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. Brown is only going to come off the field for a few snaps at most, while JuJu Smith-Schuster has overtaken everybody else at wide receiver the past three weeks in terms of snaps played. And then there is of course Martavis Bryant, to boot, who, while not blowing up the stat sheet, will still command snaps and targets.