Donte Moncrief of the Pittsburgh Steelers

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Dunlap: Moncrief’s Role Still Coming Into Focus

Colin Dunlap
August 27, 2019 - 1:59 pm

When Donte Moncrief was brought to Pittsburgh, I didn’t know what to think. 

Was he going to jump to the top of the Steelers’ receiver rotation? 

Was he a nice complementary piece? 

Was he a guy who could potentially take over a game? 

At just 26, was he already on the back end of his career? 

So many questions and, to be honest, I still don’t know what to think. 

Then again, preseason doesn’t generally provide answers; and it hasn’t for Moncrief yet. He has three catches for 12 yards. The longest of which went for 7 yards. 

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Or, to put it another way, both Zach Gentry and Johnny Holton have more catches than him in the preseason. 

This isn’t an attempt to run-down Moncrief. 

Nope, not at all. 

I’m just wondering what the Steelers have in him. I’m also wondering if he will play in the fourth preseason game as it has become clear the No. 1 receiver spot is taken by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the second spot has been grabbed by James Washington. 

But back to Moncrief … what is the guy? 

Is Moncrief a guy who is potentially a No. 2 receiver --- and will be neck and neck with Washington --- or will he end up being someone surpassed by rookie Diontae Johnson? 

This is something that will need to all play out. 

But, I can't be alone here in my line of thinking. And, again, this isn't some big indictment of Moncrief, but I expected some more flash from him by now. I expected camp (and the preseason games) to have provided him with a chance to show some separation. Yeah, I know, I know, I know ... it's just been three preseason games and some practices, but I can't be alone in thinking he would have jumped off the screen a bit more by now. 

I didn 't expect Moncrief to be Antonio Brown, but I also expected him to have a firmer stamp on this offense by now and show at least one moment of brilliance.  

We talk all the time at this point on the calendar of “camp darlings.” Unfailingly, we discuss guys who come out of nowhere and do things unexpected and play their way either onto the roster or into more playing time. 

That said, it's only fair to also talk about guys on the other end of the continuum. For me, Moncrief is there. He’s kind of been that guy in camp. 

I thought there’d be many more answers from him at this point. 

However, all that said and one big catch in a division or conference game (or really any game when it has an impact) and Moncrief will go right back to being someone who is right there with Washington. He will be someone Steelers’ fans will see as a viable No. 2 behind Smith-Schuster. 

There is something very pivotal that rises to the top in all of this. 

With JuJu and Washington and what Moncrief potentially can be, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense has a wonderful problem. Ben Roethlisberger has weaponry around him and decisions to make as he both goes into the huddle and then when it breaks. 

Simply, having that many quality receivers will never be a bad thing. 

It will just be interesting to see the evolution of Moncrief and what, exactly, he gives to this offense this season. 

Because right now, I haven’t any idea what to expect from him. 

He might turn out to be great; he might not. And, truth be told, I haven’t seen an indicator either way when I thought I would have seen more.

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