The Pittsburgh Steelers have several new wide receivers for veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to break in this offseason as not only was one drafted, but another one was signed during the early portion of free agency. That veteran free agent wide receiver that was signed was Donte Moncrief, who has already played five seasons in the NFL with two other teams on his way to registering 200 total receptions for 2,543 yards and 21 touchdowns.
At the conclusion of the Steelers first OTA practice of 2019 on Tuesday, Roethlisberger talked about the importance of being able to work with his new wide receivers, and especially Moncrief, during this part of the offseason program.
“Like today with ‘Crief [Moncrief] a couple of times, I was asking him, ‘Hey did you feel good on your depth there?’ And just working different things out,” Roethlisberger said. “So, it’s definitely going to take some big focus.”
Moncrief also reiterated the importance of him being able to work a lot with Roethlisberger during OTAs these next several weeks during his post-practice chat with the media.
“I mean, like I say, it’s OTAs, but I’m a new guy. He’s [Roethlisberger’s] trying to learn me and I’m trying to learn him and so I’m coming here every day trying to show him the best routes that I have so I can gain trust and stuff like that,” Moncrief said.
While Moncrief has only played with two other NFL teams prior to signing with the Steelers this offseason as an unrestricted free agent, he’s had to already catch passes from 8 different quarterbacks in those 67 total regular season games played in. 5 of those 67 games that Moncrief has already played in were against the Steelers so he already had a pretty good understanding about what kind of quarterback Roethlisberger is prior to becoming a teammate of his this past March.
“That he can spin that ball for sure,” Moncrief told the media on Tuesday when asked what he already knew about Roethlisberger prior to signing with the Steelers. “He makes crazy plays. He don’t like going down and he can extend plays and that’s a good thing to know. And every time we played him, he did great. So, the games that I watched, I know that anytime they [the Steelers] got a chance to throw the ball, he’s going to throw it. So, that’s going to be fun and just ready to get the timing down with him and get some of those balls.”
Moncrief may have already had a good idea about what kind of quarterback Roethlisberger is prior to practicing with him for the first time, but he still made it clear after Tuesday’s OTA practice that he’s already learned something new about him.
“Yeah, get your head around because if you don’t get your head around that ball will hit you in the face,” Moncrief said. “So, just mainly, like I said, it’s just timing. He’s trying to learn me, I’m trying to learn him and it’s a fun process and it’s getting there. You can tell the timing is getting there and as long as we can continue to work, it will be good.”
Moncrief also indicated on Tuesday that he has no issues taking the team’s other new wide receiver this year, third-round draft pick Diontae Johnson, under his wing and helping him get up to spreed just as quick as he hopes to.
“You got to take him in and teach him the the game, Moncrief said of the Steelers selection of Johnson in this year’s draft. “I’m going on year-six and he’s a rookie, so he’s watching me and I’m watching him. I’m gonna learn from him and he’s going to learn from me. So, it was fun, I mean, he’s a young guy but he’s ready to go.”
All the niceties aside, Moncrief indicated Tuesday that he will definitely use the Steelers selection of Johnson in the draft just a few months after signing him as an unrestricted free agent as a motivation of sorts.
“Oh yeah, for sure. I mean, it just pushes me, Moncrief said. “Pushes me to go harder and make those plays. If he’s going to make plays, I’ve got to make them. Everybody’s got to make plays. So, as long as we’re out here having fun and everybody’s catching the ball, I’m good, I’m ready to play.”
Ben Roethlisberger connecting with JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Donte Moncrief in succession. OTAs are officially off and running. pic.twitter.com/Z9sFShdKwX
— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 21, 2019