Tight Ends Expect More Work

Ready for more passes with AB gone

Jeff Hathhorn
June 01, 2019 - 8:30 am

93.7 the Fan

PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – While the Steelers may gain in locker room comradery, the team lost 104 catches, 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns when Antonio Brown was traded to the Raiders.

Tight end Vance McDonald said they will be better “because we have to be”.

“That sounded really good if I just left it at that,” McDonald added.  “Great players are great players, but at the end of the day its eleven guys taking care of their job.  If we do that I think we have the guys, that don’t necessarily have Brown and Bell on the back of their jerseys, but if you can play the position and you can do what you are asked to do.  We are going to get it done.”

“We are going to have to man,” said tight end Xavier Grimble.  “Everyone is going to have to pitch in.  That’s a lot of production out the window with him gone.  It leaves a lot of room for other guys to step up and fill in and make plays.  That is what we are going to have to do, everybody.”

Historically, with the exception of last year when he forced some passes to Brown, Ben Roethlisberger has spread passes around the field with some of the best who ever played the game.

“We all are going to have to share a little bit of it,” McDonald said.  “All across the field, Ben is definitely the guy to make that happen.”

“I’ve never really had that capacity of work load put on me and asked of me.  That’s something I would have to work to for sure.  At the end of the day, I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do.”

McDonald caught a career high 50 passes last year, 20 more than his previous high and has 128 career receptions with 12 touchdowns and 1,664 yards; or the equivalent of a year of Brown.

“You were calling plays for AB sometimes in games, obviously not doing that necessarily now,” McDonald said of making up for production.  “So whether it’s going to go to JuJu, to Moncrief, to Eli or Switzer in the slot, to me at the tight end position, it will be fun and interesting to see how we can be creative and allow that to happen.”

Some of those production numbers could land on some of the new tight ends, not just McDonald or Grimble, including their fifth round pick, Michigan’s Zach Gentry.  The former quarterback said he’s just trying to figure out what is going on right now.

“You’re not even playing football, you are just trying to ace the test,” McDonald said of the young guys in the room.  “They are all such a work in progress because they are trying to learn the playbook while also getting a feel for JD (James Daniels), how he coaches the position and just how fast the NFL is.”

The 28-year-old McDonald says he embraces a leadership role and has a two-fold plan to make sure he gets more receptions this year.

“Handle my job and buy Ben a lot of presents.”

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