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Ready to put his experience to work

Posted Jun 8, 2017

Playing time last season benefited Eli Rogers.

Eli Rogers looked around, and then laughed when he saw a few cameras and reporters waiting for him after the Steelers OTA practice on Wednesday, quickly asking “What is this?”

As he set his helmet down, he realized that yes, everyone was waiting to talk to him.

When you play with a wide receiver group that includes Antonio Brown, sometimes it’s easy to sneak by, not be the center of attention. But with the way Rogers finished out the 2016 season, catching 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns, this year he isn’t going to be able to sneak by reporters, or defenders as easily.

Rogers has been working in the slot with the starters, along with Brown and Martavis Bryant on the outside, during the team’s OTAs. He is working every day to get better, coming in this year with more confidence now that he has one key factor under his belt, experience. Rogers missed his rookie season with a foot injury, but stepped up last year, playing in 13 games with eight starts.

“Last year I played off a lot of skill and my prior knowledge of the game,” said Rogers. “I have the experience now, and the experience is everything. This year I am excited to get back out there and put my experience on display.

“It gives you that game play live action. Going back to my rookie year I didn’t play at all. I was injured all year. Then I came back and played and got some experience. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, but I never thought it was going to be easy. Now I have that experience so it slowed the game down a lot.”

One thing experience has taught him is hard work pays off. He is among a group of players that always stay on the field after the OTA session has ended, catching more passes, doing more drills. It’s all part of his effort to get better, even if it is during a time when improvement is hard to measure.

“I come out and try to be detailed every play, every day,” said Rogers. “I show that I have grown from last year. I want to come out every day and get better, show detail every play. Just to be better than last year. Be better every day. Do what the coaches ask me to do. Be there for my team and just make plays.

“I proved myself last year and I am going to continue to prove myself this year. I am not out here competing with anyone. I am out here competing with myself. I am just trying to get better every day within myself. We’ll see how that plays out and what the coaches think.”