A funny thing happened on the way to the bench for Donte Moncrief. Or, perhaps not so funny. After yet another terrible game, his second in two total played as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the free agent wide receiver reportedly left the locker room this afternoon before the media had the opportunity to get in and ask questions, according to Chris Adamski.
Donte Moncrief dresses and leaves the locker room before media can ask him any questions.
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) September 15, 2019
Though he only got one chance this time around, as opposed to 10 in the season opener, Moncrief spectacularly botched that one shot. We don’t have the specific snap count yet, but he was already not playing much.
On the Steelers’ opening drive in the third quarter, with Mason Rudolph having replaced Ben Roethlisberger, who left with an injury of undisclosed nature to his throwing elbow, the second-year quarterback looked to his tall target on third and eight.
While the ball was high, Moncrief was easily able to put both hands on the ball to definitively bounce off and into the air, after which it was intercepted by the Seattle Seahawks. It was the second throw of Rudolph’s career, and should have been a conversion on third and eight, but instead will go down as an interception.
The belief is that he did not play for the rest of the game, and really, at this point, it’s quite believable that he can find himself riding the bench next week. He has at least four drops through the first two games on 11 targets, and some have him at five.
On the season, he has three receptions for seven yards. He was signed to function as the number two receiver this season alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster to help replace Antonio Brown, but instead it’s the young wide receivers, James Washington and Diontae Johnson, who are slowly emerging to fulfill those roles. Or at least that’s the hope.
Moncrief did suffer a finger injury early in training camp, and he acknowledged after last week’s game that the injury is still an issue, but he denied that it could be blamed for what he described at the time as the worst game in his career.
While his teammates, particularly Roethlisberger, publicly vouched for him and even predicted a big game this week, that clearly did not happen, and it’s uncertain if he will even be asked to dress when they take the field for the next time.
Is his finger that much of an issue? Is he simply struggling in other ways? While he never lived up to his potential with the Indianapolis Colts or the Jacksonville Jaguars, he is obviously capable of doing better than dropping more than 50 percent of his on-target passes.