Eric Ebron has never made it a secret that he has a certain affinity for Ben Roethlisberger. Long before he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason, you can see his Twitter history for references of him praising the future Hall of Fame quarterback for his performance, including live-Tweeting during games.
It is now just a matter of weeks before they will have the opportunity to take the field together in a meaningful game for the first time, Roethlisberger in his 17th season and Ebron in his seventh. “I haven’t been in game-like situations with Ben yet and I can’t wait to see how he operates in those environments”, he told reporters before practice yesterday.
While he hasn’t gotten the opportunity to see Roethlisberger in action in a real game-like setting, he compares it to working with Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford. “They’re just so cool, calm, collected”, he said. “It’s something about their will and that they knew that they were going to win or knew they were going to have that drive or knew that they were going to get that last possession we needed”.
It’s fair to say that the Steelers quarterback has been in his fair share of clutch situations over the course of his career, and he’s been know to come up big in them fairly frequently. He has 42 game-winning drives and 31 fourth-quarter comebacks during his time in the NFL.
“I haven’t had that experience with Ben yet and I can’t wait for it, but he’s a great quarterback, man”, Ebron went on. “As far as I’ve been practicing with him, he loves to get the ball out of his hands. He loves for his playmakers to make plays and he loves to always give you an opportunity. So, that’s kind of what I’ve picked up from him so far and like I said, I can’t wait to get into a game-like situation with him, fans or no fans”.
Ebron was the Steelers’ big offseason acquisition, even if you include the 2020 NFL Draft, considering they did not have a first-round pick. He joined the team on a two-year, $12 million contract following a week of cap-cutting releases and restructures, which included fellow tight end Vance McDonald taking a slight pay cut.
Pittsburgh is looking for ways to employ both tight ends in the offense this season, dual-threat pass-catchers that they essentially have never had before at the same time. Arguably the best tight end duo in team history was Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth, and the latter, even as a college Mackey Award winner, wasn’t much of a receiving threat in the way he was used.
But Roethlisberger likes throwing to tight ends, and though he’s rarely had the opportunity, he loves throwing to athletic tight ends. Ebron could easily become one of his favorite targets this season as he did with Luck in 2017.