The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking at a potential need at the wide receiver position, a possibility that we have been dabbling in a bit over the course of the past couple of days, identifying pending free agent Terrelle Pryor and former Steeler Markus Wheaton, expected to be released, as possible options to shore up depth.
One of the primary reasons that depth is seen as a need is because Eli Rogers, who is ostensibly their number four wide receiver, suffered a torn ACL in mid-January in the team’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars during the postseason. While he had fallen behind rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rogers saw meaningful time in the playoff game, catching five passes, and also had success as a punt returner late in the year.
The fourth-year player has updated his status for us a couple of times already this offseason, just recently Tweeting out that he is off his crutches. He just spoke to the team’s website to update his status even further, the details coming courtesy of Teresa Varley.
“No crutches. They are gone”, he emphasized. “It feels great to know I made it through the first phase of this thing. I am ready to head into the second phase with a new mindset, new purpose, but the same work ethic”.
He said that phase two is “going great” and that the training staff has told him that he is “ahead of schedule”. While he is scheduled to be a restricted free agent, he remains under contract until the start of the new year, and because he suffered the injury while under contract, he is permitted to use the facilities during his rehabilitation process regardless of whether or not he has a deal.
“I am coming in every day and getting better, mentally too. I push myself every day”, Rogers told Varley. “It’s tough in the offseason, you want guys around and camaraderie and the energy, it’s always great to be around other people. They motivate you. But I have worked on my own before, and I don’t mind that. I train by myself”.
This is not the first time that he has been rehabbing by himself. During his rookie season, in fact, he spent the year on injured reserve with a foot injury that he suffered early in training camp, prior to any preseason games having been played. Yet he showed the team enough that they were intrigued, and kept him on injured reserve the entire year to get another look in 2016. He ended up being their top slot option that year.
“I should be ready by camp”, he said “I keep seeing progress. He said that he consults with head athletic trainer John Norwig about conventional benchmarks in recovery for his injury and he strives to stay “a week or two ahead” of those benchmarks.
I don’t know what the future holds for Rogers and whether or not that future will take place in Pittsburgh, but it’s encouraging to see how diligently he is pursuing his rehabilitation process to get back as quickly as possible, especially following a season in which he lost his position on the depth chart.