For anybody who has actually been following Randy Fichtner’s weekly Thursday interviews, you may have noticed that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive coordinator has been taking time for the past few weeks now to go out of his way to bring up Eli Rogers, who at the time was still on the Physically Unable to Perform List.
Even last week he talked about the fourth-year wide receiver and how he was getting reps in practice with Ben Roethlisberger and the first-team offense, but because it was not up to him to activate him to the 53-man roster, he was hesitant to say anything much further.
The Steelers did choose to activate him a week ago today and made his 2018 debut on Sunday, making an early impact by catching four passes for 20 yards in about the first 20 minutes of the game. He also drew a pass interference penalty on a deep pass.
The team favored using rookie James Washington more in the second half, but that could have even been by design in an effort to ease Rogers back into the fold as he returns from a torn ACL suffered a little under a year ago.
Now that he’s finally active and contributing, Fichtner brought him up again and talked about him in relation to Ryan Switzer, who had emerged in recent weeks as a slot option that has given the offense leeway to play JuJu Smith-Schuster outside more.
Asked about Rogers’ return, he said per the team’s communications department, “you know, he becomes that other type of slot capable of playing outside”—for the record, he played three snaps outside. He said that Switzer “has done a great job for us”, and suggested that the offense could make use of both of them on the field together.
“Sometimes having them on the field at the same times, it might in a man situation cause an issue just because you’ve got to handle two very quick-type slot receivers. If it’s not a man situation it’s irrelevant”.
The two were on the field together for 17 snaps in total, including penalties, all of which consisted of their 00 personnel package containing five wide receivers. Rogers was actually the odd man out for the one snap that they played out of 01 personnel, but had the edge out of their base 11 package—behind Washington, anyway.
I do like the idea of having both of Rogers and Switzer on the field together in four- or five-receiver sets in select situations, or on a dedicated drive, as they did on Sunday against the New England Patriots, which ended in a touchdown. Depending on the personnel the defense has to match up against them, it could definitely be advantageous.