The road has not often been an easy one for Eli Rogers to walk lately, both figuratively and literally. The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver has a history of physical ailments stemming from his playing career and going back to college.
During his rookie season as an undrafted free agent out of Louisville, for example, he spent the year on injured reserve due to a foot injury. While he did come back and earn the starting slot receiver job, catching nearly 50 passes for over 500 yards, his role regressed in 2017, and then it ended with a torn ACL.
That knee injury occurred about a month or so ago during the Steelers’ defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round of the postseason. And it comes at a critical time as the team has to decide whether or not to apply a restricted tree agent tender to him.
It was just a few days ago that Rogers first updated his status during an interview with Steelers Nation Radio, which we brought to you on the site. “It’s coming along great”, he said of his knee. “I’m just taking it a day at a time. It’s getting stronger though, I’m at a pretty good flexion and extension degree right now. So, it’s coming along good. Just a day at a time”.
Roughly a week or so since that interview, he Tweeted on Tuesday that he is now off his crutches, which, it should go without saying, is a notable milestone as he works his way back to full capacity since tearing a knee ligament a month and a week ago.
Off the crutches ???? All Paises Due to the Almighty!!
— Eli Rogers (@__bELIeve17) February 20, 2018
The wide receiver position, at least beyond the top, is in something of a state of flux at the moment. While the Steelers can likely count upon Antonio Brown and second-year player JuJu Smith-Schuster to provide some long-term stability over the course of at least the next few years, the rest of the group behind them is a barrel of question marks.
At this time, it is probably more likely than not that Martavis Bryant will remain on the roster in 2018, and that he will function as one of the team’s top three wide receivers, but to envision him being on the team in 2019 and beyond is quite a stretch.
Aside from Rogers, the other members of the 2017 53-man roster are Justin Hunter and Darrius Heyward-Bey, both of whom were minor contributors at best to the offense, and neither of whom have come close to living up to their talent.
One name of interest from the practice squad is Marcus Tucker, but the team is certainly not going to rests its hopes on him. While the immediate on-field need is not there, the general uncertainty of the supporting cast may well lead the team back to Rogers.
And the fact that he appears to be making good progress is obviously good news, though I still expect that they will wait and revisit his status as he gets closer to getting back on the field.