More signs pointing to Eli Rogers' activation by Steelers for game vs. Patriots
Perhaps as a means to stay focused, perhaps to avoid a jinx, perhaps in deference to teammates who have been playing all season, Eli Rogers spent this week politely declining requests to speak with media.
“Off the media, no social media, no nothing,” the Pittsburgh Steelers receiver said when approached by a pair or reporters Friday.
Rogers had just finished a practice in which fellow receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster acknowledged he was taking first-team reps alongside them. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner characterized Rogers as “healthy” – and now with Rogers’ replacement as the Steelers’ slot receiver, Ryan Switzer, having suffered an ankle injury, all signs are pointing to Rogers’ activation off the physically unable to perform list in time for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.
“Excited to get him back,” Brown said of Rogers. “He’s a great asset for the team.”
Rogers suffered a torn ACL in his most recent game, the playoff loss to Jacksonville 11 months ago. He opened training camp on PUP as he continued his rehabilitation, and he spent the first 13 weeks of the regular season on the PUP list until he was cleared to practice Nov. 28.
Rogers must be activated to the 53-man roster by the middle of next week or be lost for the season. But the Steelers appear to be trending toward adding his slot receiving skills to the offense’s arsenal in time for facing New England – the momentum only further building so with the late-week injury to Switzer.
Switzer has been the Steelers’ punt and kick returner this season; Rogers was the Steelers’ primary punt returner for most of 2016-17.
“Eli is a shifty dude, a very quick, very smart dude playing inside,” Smith-Schuster said. “He also does punt returns, so he’s going to help out a lot.”
Rogers has a career-high (counting the postseason) seven catches for 66 yards against the New England defense during the AFC championship game following the 2016 season.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.