Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers no longer have Antonio Brown, which creates a very real and legitimate question mark with regards to how the wide receiver position will perform as a group in 2019, they still have a lot of players at that spot that they like. And that goes all the way down to the practice squad level, where Trey Griffey and Tevin Jones spent all of the 2018 season.
Griffey—whose father you surely know of—is still fairly raw at his craft, but has interesting potential, and being 6’3” at that position doesn’t hurt, either. During minicamp, he was asked about whom he was looking to for motivation or tips, now that Brown was gone, and he told reporters, courtesy of 93.7 FM, that it was the two with the most experience with the team: JuJu Smith-Schuster and Eli Rogers.
“As far as knowing the system very well, as far as having the success that he’s had”, Smith-Schuster and his work ethic have been a key source of fuel for Griffey this offseason. “Last year, his second year, he goes to the Pro Bowl. Not a lot of players could say that”.
But 2018 wasn’t his first encounter with Smith-Schuster. “I played against JuJu in college”, he said. “You see it in him as far as him competing against you, but that’s something to see in person, to see the way he works, the way he attacks every day, the way that he helps out”. He chalked his success working with Ben Roethlisberger up to that.
Smith-Schuster last season became the youngest player to record 100 receptions or 1000 receiving yards in a career. He made the Pro Bowl with 111 receptions for 1426 yards and seven touchdowns. For his career, he has 169 receptions for 2343 yards and 14 touchdowns in 30 games played.
Griffey didn’t see much of Rogers last year because he was rehabbing a torn ACL for most of that time. He began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List and didn’t even start practicing until late in the year, when he was finally called up for the final three games.
He finally saw then, and so far this offseason, the sort of rapport that the fifth-year wide receiver has with Roethlisberger. “They know exactly what he wants, what to do”, Griffey said, noting that Rogers is inside, while Smith-Schuster has done both. “You pick up things from them and they’ll give you hints as to what Ben might do on this play or look out for this. So that’s always encouraging”.
Of course, if Griffey wants to make the roster, he may well have to take that spot from Rogers. Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson should all be regarded as locks to make the roster in 2019. One of Rogers or Ryan Switzer will most likely make the roster, at least, as well, so there isn’t much room left over.