Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spent most of his career with a good old reliable Toyota that consistently got him where he needed to be and protected him while needing very little maintenance. But that Toyota put itself out of commission, so as a midlife crisis gift, the team went out and got him a Ferrari, which proved to be a lemon.
I’m not sure exactly what make or model Vance McDonald is, but Roethlisberger is just glad he’s finally getting a chance to enjoy the drive again. Too used to the omnipresence of Heath Miller, Ladarius Green’s tribulations in 2016 was an eye-opener. McDonald spent much of his first year in Pittsburgh banged up as well, but has become a regular contributor in 2018.
“I think it’s a guy that you have to be aware of for down-the-field stuff”, Roethlisberger said of his latest number one tight end. “He’s a guy that can create some mismatch opportunities, and when you get that you’ve got to take advantage of it. We all saw what can happen when you get the ball in his hands quick enough”.
Asked about the fact that McDonald requested and received the locker next to him this offseason, Roethlisberger joked, “I tried to get him moved back out”, before opening up about the close relationship that the two have forged off the field, and which he believes is producing results on the field.
“Vance and I have a great relationship”, the quarterback told reporters yesterday. “We’re in a Bible study off the field. We went on a trip this offseason together. It’s good being there, that we can communicate and talk about football things, life things, faith things, whatever it is”.
“It’s good having him there, and I think it definitely has helped us on the field”.
In four games played, the sixth-year tight end has 13 receptions for 206 receiving yards and one touchdown. A thunderous 75-yard touchdown, which is what Roethlisberger was referring to in his earlier comment about getting the ball in his hands quick enough.
While he had just one reception for six yards on Sunday in a game that was geared primarily toward running the ball and throwing to the wide receivers, he put up a combined nine receptions for 172 yards in Week Three and Week Four.
He has already surpassed his yardage total from the regular season a year ago, matching his one touchdown, and is one reception from tying that mark as well. His 15.8 yards per reception is the fifth-most by a tight end with at least 10 receptions this year so far—oddly, behind Jesse James at the top of the list.