‘Professional’ Moncrief a Veteran Presence for Young WR Group

Teammates, coaches impressed with sixth-year wideout’s assimilation

Josh Rowntree
June 13, 2019 - 1:54 pm
Steelers WR Donte Moncreif at OTAs in 2019

Josh Rowntree - 93.7 The Fan

Despite not playing a single snap for the Steelers in his life, Donte Moncrief is the ‘professional’ of Pittsburgh’s wide receivers group. 

That word, ‘professional,’ has been uttered time and again when describing Moncrief, from Steelers coaches and players alike. 

“Hard work, studying, coming in on time, coming to work every day, that’s all that matters,” Moncrief said following the final day of Steelers minicamp Thursday. “Any time you can come in and work and show those guys that you can be a leader, you can be a professional.”

Leader is an interesting role for Moncrief. He is only his sixth season in the NFL, but compared to the rest of the receivers, he’s downright an elder, with two more years of experience than any other pass catcher. Among the skill positions, only tight end Vance McDonald has more years under his belt. 

“I just have to go in and work with those guys and have fun with those guys, just play and show them that you’re here to work and not here to just play around,” Moncrief said. “That’s what I did, I came in and tried to help those guys. And I learned from them, also.”

Pittsburgh’s rookies have benefitted from Moncrief’s knowledge in a major way.

“He’s been a big help to me because I’m playing behind him right now,” third-round pick Diontae Johnson. "I’m just trying to soak up everything from him and apply it to my game. He’s been here I the League for a while. He knows what to do. Whatever I need, I just go to him."

Moncrief was highly complimentary of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to this point when he joined the Steelers. Reality has lived up to his hopes, it seems.

“It’s great, just getting timing down and getting used to the way he throws the ball, getting used to the things that he sees,” Moncrief said. “I feel like the timing is getting better and it’s going to continue to get better when camp comes around.”

Roethlisberger, on Tuesday, singled out Moncrief when asked about who has stood out to this point.

“It’d be hard to pick one, but I’d probably go with Donte Moncrief, because it’s new (for him),” Roethlisberger said. “I know what to expect with some other guys, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect when he came in. Obviously, we played against him and saw him go against us in game situations. I didn’t know him as a person. Now I’m just getting to see his work ethic, the type of person he is, his desire to be great, his knowledge of the offense already. 

“We’ll do no huddle stuff and I’ll give him a signal and ask him ‘you good’ and he’s like ‘yeah.’ He’s in with (Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake) every single morning. You see the desire and the want to be great. So I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him and to work with him so far.”

The assimilation for Moncrief will need to take another step when the team reports to his first Latrobe training camp, in front of throngs of Steelers fans, on July 25. 

“The fans are amazing,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of fans out there, so it’s going to be fun to go out there and compete. Coach Tomlin is going to let guys compete. I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m going to train and get ready for the season. It’s coming fast. I have to be in the best shape I can be to make plays.”

Moncrief has 200 receptions for 2.543 yards and 21 touchdowns in his five seasons in the NFL. The first four years were with the Colts. Last season he went for 668 yards, the second-most of his career, while with the Jaguars. Numbers like that won’t replace — but could help fill — the void left by Antonio Brown’s departure. 

“I feel like I’m doing good,” Moncrief said. “As long as I come in and work, stay patient, stay humble, everything will fall into place. I feel like I made a good decision to come here.

“Whatever they need me to do. Blocking, running routes, clearing out guys, being able to make plays. Anything they want me to do I’m willing to do.”

Hear more from Donte Moncrief below.