by Aubrey Bruce, For New Pittsburgh Courier
By the time that you read this article, Steelers minicamp 2019 will be going full blast. However, let’s take a look backward before we prematurely blast forward to training camp and the 2019 NFL season. First and foremost, the Steelers had nine, count em, nine receivers that participated in the recently-concluded OTAs—Ryan Switzer, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, Tevin Jones, Trey Griffey, Eli Rogers, Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Diontae Spencer.
I can almost guarantee you that one or both “Diontaes” probably won’t be warming the bench on Sept. 8 for Pittsburgh when they travel to Foxborough to face the New England Patriots to begin the 2019 season. The primary reason that this column has been focused on the wide receivers is because there has been a great deal of emphasis put on the departure of Antonio “all I care about is breaking the record of Jerry Rice” Brown and the evaporation of his 104-catch season last year.
In 2018, Switzer had 36 receptions for 253 yards, Washington had 16 catches for 217 yards, and Rogers had 12 receptions for 79 yards. The newly-acquired Moncrief played for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018.
Moncrief should adapt to Ben Roethlisberger rather easily because he has played with six different quarterbacks since his 2014 rookie year in Indianapolis. He started out with Andrew Luck as a rookie in 2014 and for part of his second season until Luck was injured. Then after the stint with Luck came Jacoby Brissett, Matt Hasselbeck, and Scott Tolzien. He played with two quarterbacks in 2018 in Jacksonville, Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler. Even in light of the fluctuating QB scenario in 2018, Moncrief still had 48 receptions for 663 yards and had one 80-yard reception, showing that he can be a deep threat outside or a slot receiver. With “Big” Ben at the helm, I expect Moncrief to have at least 70 catches in 2019. If Moncrief makes it through minicamp and training camp without suffering any major injuries, he will be a force for the Steelers in 2019.
As far as becoming accustomed to the styles of multiple quarterbacks, Moncrief told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in March: “It was pretty tough. It was just something you had to try to get used to. There are different throws, seeing different ways guys threw the ball. It was kind of difficult, but it was something we knew was coming, and we had to get used to it. I’m looking forward to playing with Ben, a Hall of Fame guy. I get a chance to play some years with him and catch a lot of balls.”
The upcoming 2019 season will be a chance for all of the Steelers’ offensive players to shine, just not one player. This is the opportunity for the offense to show its true mettle. The offense can make 2019 a year of no whining but a year of wining and dining. This can be a banner year, no more smashing and dashing, turning Gatorade coolers over on the sidelines, no more self-centered tantrums and no more sitting at home losing money being a “mister potato head” as opposed to being a couch potato during a designated bye week.
Don’t say that I said this but: “If certain people can be constructive on Sundays maybe they won’t have the time to entertain not one but two girlfriends with a penchant for expensive jewelry.”
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