Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not play in last night’s game, but contrary to the approach that Jon Gruden took last night, where seemingly half of the roster that wasn’t going to play didn’t even travel, he was out there on the sideline supporting his teammates. And giving interviews during halftime as well.
Though brief, he touched on a number of subjects with Missi Matthews, some more immediate, others more broad. Among the topics that she asked him about was his previous comments about wanting to work more wide receivers in and out of the game this year and whether they have been able to work on it this offseason.
“We have as much as we can. We want to continue to do it”, Roethlisberger said. “We want guys to be selfless and really, if they need a break, it’s okay to come out, another guy come in and be fresh. It puts more on them because they have to know where to go and what to do, and really not miss a beat. We’ve got the guys that can do it, and we’ll just see as the regular season gets here if we’re able to do it”.
We did see that during the third preseason game, when Roethlisberger actually played. If memory serves, the first two drives only totaled nine plays combined, but the third drive took about 10 plays, and we saw some rotation.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, for example, was given a breather late in the drive after making receptions on back-to-back plays, James Washington filling in. He came back in time to catch the touchdown. Eli Rogers and Johnny Holton also subbed in briefly for Ryan Switzer and Donte Moncrief, respectively. Rogers and Switzer alternated drives otherwise with Roethlisberger in the game.
What the rotation ends up looking like obviously depends a lot upon who ends up making the roster, and we know that the only spots guaranteed are those belonging to Smith-Schuster, Moncrief, Washington, and rookie Diontae Johnson, who had another nice catch last night.
Based on how the preseason has unfolded, it seems a guarantee that at least one of either Switzer or Rogers will make the team, but Holton’s late push in the finale makes cut-down day a very interesting one for the position.
What we do know at least is that the Steelers have more than enough wide receivers to go around this year, and that was somewhat in question after they traded away Antonio Brown. Moncrief wasn’t signed yet, and Johnson was a long way from being drafted still, of course, while Washington entered year two with much to prove. He still has more to show, but his preseason and total offseason performance is very encouraging.