Receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell (who caught plenty of passes) are gone. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wants them also to be forgotten. Whether that happens depends on the performance of the players who will take their place.
“I’m really excited about what we have,” Roethlisberger recently told Chris Simms. “JuJu [Smith-Schuster] just keeps getting better and I’m excited for what he’s going to do, especially with a new challenge. Every year he’s presented with a new challenge and he’s answered the bell.”
It’s going to take more than JuJu to get it done, but Ben is also excited about the rest of the receiving corps.
“I’m excited to see what [Donte] Moncrief [does],” Roethlisberger said. “I’ve been really excited about him. We got a battle inside between him, Eli [Rogers] and [Ryan Switzer], two guys who are really fun to watch work. James Washington has shown improvement. He’s lost weight, gotten faster, and [is] making plays.
“There’s going to be a lot. There’s some catches that went to Oakland that are going to have to get dispersed among a lot of guys. Not one guy and that’s going to be the thing, it’s not one guy who needs to pick up the slack. It needs to be everybody, and that includes me. Making sure every guy gets the ball and make sure I don’t try to do too much.”
When trying to understand why the Steelers have had so many mid-to-late-round receivers over the last decade, rarely if ever does anyone credit Roethlisberger for it. This year, he’ll have a chance to prove that he’s had something to do with the stellar performances of so many Steelers receivers.