New Steelers WR Donte Moncrief not trying to replace Antonio Brown
With the ink still drying on the Antonio Brown trade, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed veteran wide receiver Donte Moncrief to a two-year contract.
That brings impossible expectations for a receiver who, at least on paper, is filling the roster spot of a seven-time Pro Bowl player.
Moncrief made it clear Thursday he did not join the Steelers to replace Brown.
“Donte is going to be Donte,” Moncrief said at an introductory press conference. “AB, like anybody knows, is one of the best — or is the best — to ever play this game. You can’t try to be what he was. You can only try to be what you are.
“I’m going to come in and play the role that I can play, make the plays that I can make and do whatever it takes to make this team better.”
In five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars, Moncrief caught 200 passes. He never was considered the primary target at either destination.
Moncrief also never had one quarterback consistently throwing him passes despite playing with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. He played with the likes of Jacoby Brissett, Scott Tolzien and Matt Hasselbeck in Indianapolis because of injuries to Luck, and Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler were Moncrief’s QBs last season in Jacksonville.
Moncrief said he welcomes the chance to catch passes from Ben Roethlisberger. Moncrief was taking his physical Thursday when Roethlisberger called, and the franchise quarterback followed up with a text.
“It was exciting to get a message from Ben Roethlisberger,” Moncrief said.
What did Roethlisberger tell him?
“How he’s ready to get going, make some plays, get some throws in,” Moncrief said. “He wants to meet up in the offseason and get some chemistry going so it can roll into the season.”
At 25 years old, Moncrief is in the unexpected role of being the veteran in the Steelers wide receiver room. His five NFL seasons is as many as JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ryan Switzer have combined. Only Eli Rogers, 26, is older, but Moncrief has the edge in experience.
“It’s kind of weird,” Moncrief said. “Just thinking about that, I have to be the ‘mentor’ guy, push guys and make sure guys do things right. Like coach said already, it’s a great room. JuJu Smith-Schuster is doing things a lot of young guys can’t do.
“We have a lot of other guys that are hardworking, young guys that are going to keep me young and push me and motivate me and make me go fast every play.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .