<
>

Ben Roethlisberger is 'equal-opportunity QB' with Steelers role players

PITTSBURGH -- Eli Rogers spent 15 to 20 minutes on the Jugs machine after Friday's practice. The Steelers slot receiver knows the spotlight will be on all of the receivers on Sunday night in New England, and he wants his hands ready.

"They talk about the big three, and rightfully so," said Rogers of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell. "But a lot of plays will be made. We'll be ready."

The Steelers know what to expect from Brown and Bell each week. The rest of the Steelers' passing game can be an adventure. Tight end Ladarius Green might play but is still in the NFL's concussion protocol. That leaves Rogers; tight ends Jesse James and Xavier Grimble; and wide receivers Cobi Hamilton, Sammie Coates, Demarcus Ayers and Darrius Heyward-Bey, all of whom have had their bright moments but aren't stretching the field each week.

Rogers is the only player from that group to finish the season with more than 40 catches, but James is perking up, catching five passes for 83 yards in Kansas City last week. The Chiefs left him curiously open, and he took advantage of it.

Why does Rogers feel so hopeful about this matchup? He feels encouraged in part by Friday's practice. Rogers -- whose 48 catches for 594 yards are third on the team -- said Big Ben spread the ball around.

Brown will get his, but the Steelers know if they get open, Roethlisberger will hit them, whether they are stars or role players.

"He's an equal-opportunity quarterback," Rogers said.

Roethlisberger listed several of his receivers by name when asked about his playmakers outside of the big three, including one-catch Cobi -- that's not Hamilton's nickname, but it might as well be, as Roethlisberger said he makes one important catch each week.

Hamilton has caught exactly one pass in five of the past six games, including multiple third-down snags.

Hamilton laughed off the one-catch remark, then added, "We're all No. 2s [this week]."