Moncrief calls life alongside Ben ‘fantastic’


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Donte Moncrief runs a route during Steelers OTAs – MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Donte Moncrief will play a vital role in the Steelers offense in 2019. At least, he will if everything goes according to plan.

The Steelers signed Moncrief to a two-year deal in March, giving them depth at wide receiver and, potentially, much more. Although Moncrief hasn't exceeded 65 receptions or 750 yards in a season during his five-year career, he's flashed big-play ability and tremendous athletic gifts, making him an intriguing option for a Steelers receiving corps looking to move on from Antonio Brown.

"I see myself, I can do pretty much anything," Moncrief was saying during Steelers OTAs at the Rooney Complex. "Whatever they want me to do, I'm willing to do. Special teams, offense — it [doesn't] matter. I'm ready to play."

The Steelers didn't replace Brown's All-Pro numbers with one move, but they do boast a receiving group that's deep and varied, bringing a high ceiling with young and hungry players who can do it all. JuJu Smith-Schuster will lead the way, but behind him is a blossoming James Washington, two quick, shifty slot receivers in Ryan Switzer and Eli Rogers and rookie Diontae Johnson, who possesses similar traits to Brown across the board.

That mix of capable, dangerous bodies, according to Moncrief, is exactly what Mike Tomlin wants.

"As coach said, you're always going to be as strong as your weakest guy," Moncrief said. "In our room, we try to pick everybody up, make sure everybody is on the same page and make sure everybody's ready to go, to play every position. If we can do that, man, our receiving is going to be electric."

Factoring into that electricity will be Moncrief himself. His numbers to date don't jump off the page, but if you roll the tape, you'll notice some trends. He's big and fast, and he can absolutely burn cornerbacks on the outside. Then, consider this: He's primarily played with Andrew LuckMatt Hasselbeck and Blake Bortles.

When Luck was throwing him the ball, he'd put up stat lines like the one against the Steelers in his rookie 2014 campaign: Seven catches, 113 yards and a touchdown.

When Bortles was slinging it? Yeah, not as great. Funny how that works.

Now, Moncrief will work with a future Hall of Famer in Ben Roethlisberger, and he's loving the experience alongside No. 7 so far.

"He's great — fantastic, honestly," Moncrief said. "Just the way he throws the ball, the way he sees things before it happens, it's fun to play with him. You never know when you'll get a ball, so you gotta run everything full speed no matter if you're on the backside or not. He'll come to you just to see what you're doing."

So all that said, does Moncrief feel he made the right decision in coming to Pittsburgh to play with Roethlisberger and company?

"Oh yeah. Most definitely."

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