When offenses pack the field with tight ends and fullbacks, defenses can key in on the run. The Pittsburgh Steelers are doing their best to counter that tendency and having Eric Ebron – a wide receiver who lines up like a tight end – helps in a big way. Talking to reporters Tuesday, Ben Roethlisberger praised Ebron’s contributions in the passing game.
“Well, it’s kind of another receiver if you will,” Roethlisberger said of Ebron. “You can move him around. You can put them outside, you can put him inside in the bunch. You can move the chains with him like last week. It was a third short, we threw him a quick pass. And then you can use him late in the game where he caught a touchdown, where you have the jumbo run set. You don’t need a lot of receivers on the field because he’s kind of the de facto wide receiver.”
Breaking down the two plays Roethlisberger referenced, Ebron caught a nine yard pass on 3rd and 1 in last week’s win over Jacksonville. Trip set with Ebron running underneath JuJu Smith-Schuster, who provided a block and runway for Ebron to get upfield and get well past the marker.
Ebron capped the game off with a 20 yard score, running a skinny post – the ‘ol Bang 8 – down the seam and into the end zone. That made it 27-3, the final nail in a coffin that put Jacksonville away. It came out of heavy, 22 personnel with a fullback and two tight ends (one being OT Jerald Hawkins) on the field. In a rare moment, Roethlisberger used playaction from under center before firing to Ebron down the right side.
Through ten games, Ebron has caught 35 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns. With six games to go, he’ll certainly challenge and probably break Vance McDonald’s impressive 2018 50/610/4 stat line. With six games to go, Roethlisberger is excited to watch – and throw to – Ebron the rest of the year.
“The fun part about E is that he still growing in this offense. Because we didn’t have the off season per se in terms of mini camps and all that stuff. I think we’re still learning a lot about each other.”
Best of all, and yes, knock on wood while you read this, Ebron has stayed healthy. He hasn’t missed anytime this year, which has become especially valuable in Vance McDonald’s absence. McDonald will be ready for Thursday’s game however, a solid ying to Ebron’s yang.