The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Sparse playing time is a good sign for Eli Rogers.
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Explanation: Rogers is technically entering his fifth NFL season, though he spent nearly half of his career on injured reserve between his rookie season and most of last year. He is the only player with more than two years at wide receiver with the team and is a trusted ally for Ben Roethlisberger, so the team knows what he can do.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin does not hesitate to point out that preseason and training camp reps are not meant to be distributed equitably. Opportunities are given based on evaluative needs, and as it concerns the offensive side of the ball outside of the offensive line, Rogers is one of the very least people that the coaching staff needs to get a better look at.
Players who are already established are not going to get a lot of playing time in the preseason, and that is why we saw Rogers barely play on Friday. He has been through this enough where the team is comfortable knowing what they will get out of him. He’ll play some when Roethlisberger does, but don’t expect to see him again until it’s in a meaningful game.
IF he gets there. Allow me to remind you of a fellow by the name of Landry Jones, who was looking to go into his sixth year in 2018. He barely played in the preseason because the Steelers knew exactly who he was, but had two quarterbacks they needed to get long looks at.
Jones was the established backup, but by the end of the preseason, he was on the outside looking in for a roster spot. He got released.
And that’s what the imbalanced reps do. They give lesser-known players the opportunity to unseat a more established player. Even if it might be deemed less likely, it happens, and it can certainly happen to Rogers. He hasn’t played a major role in the offense since 2016, either, which will work against him.