He impressed as a rookie, enough that when he injured his foot, the Steelers placed him on IR instead of cutting him. In the offseason, he worked with Antonio Brown on his route running and his hands, with the end result being that he strongly resembles number 84 when he is running after the catch. While he may not be on the same level as Antonio Brown, Eli Rogers has certainly been influenced by him. Todd Haley is enamoured with his work ethic and skill set, probably even moreso now after his full extension grab of that 20 yard pass late in the 4th quarter on Sunday. Whatever he has been asked to due, Rogers has been up to the task, which has more than likely made Markus Wheaton expendable.
When you think of the clutch receptions he has made this season, it’s easy to forget that Eli Rogers is, for all intents and purposes, a rookie, because he has the poise and look of a veteran. No moment seems to big for him, and the yeoman work that he does underneath has really helped to free up Brown more during this six game winning streak. He be voted as the team MVP, but make no mistake about his value, without him, the Steelers might not have won that game on Sunday. Eli was the Steelers second leading receiver, hauling in 4 passes for 84 yards on Sunday, two of which went for 20 yards or more and put the Steelers in scoring position.
On the season, Rogers ranks third on the team with 42 receptions, and third with 533 yards. He has caught 3 touchdown passes, including the game winner midway through the fourth quarter against Cincinnati on December 18th. Eli Rogers had his first career 100 yard receiving game during the Steelers first matchup with Baltimore earlier in the season. His first career start was in his NFL debut, on the national stage of Monday Night Football no less, against the Washington Redskins, catching 6 passes for 59 yards and his first career touchdown. While he apparently found his way into Mike Tomlin’s doghouse earlier in the season, he used it as further motivation and quickly worked his way out of it and has secured the trust of both Coach Tomlin and his quarterback.
Since 1998, the Steelers have become maybe the best team in the NFL for drafting and developing wide receivers. From Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress, to the young money crew, to Martavis Bryant and Sammie Coates ( before he broke his fingers), it seems that Eli Rogers has the tools and the work ethic to become the next in line. When Todd Haley calls Rogers the most talented slot receiver he has ever worked with, Haley is most certainly validating the potential that he possesses. As the season has progressed, Rogers seems to have gotten stonger.
Granted Eli Rogers isn’t a rookie, but this is his first full year of actually playing in the NFL, and the question of whether he would have hit “the wall” was somewhat of a concern. Having a weapon like the one Eli Rogers is developing into can only help the Steelers on their Super Bowl run, because if he keeps doing was he has been recently, he may start requiring extra help in coverage. Having already played in what was essentially a playoff game last Sunday, it will no doubt have him ready to contribute on an even bigger stage, where Rogers seems ready to show that his game can be as big as the moment he will be playing in.