As the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 coaching camp nears the midway level with the ninth observe going down on Friday evening, many gamers have a spot on the 53 man roster locked up. Others introduced in as undrafted rookies or free brokers with expertise are competing to say the few remaining spots. Thursday at camp observe, my focus was on operating backs, tight ends, and punt returners.
Najee Harris: Obviously, the starter and the workhorse. Currently taking it straightforward on the sidelines with a foot damage that was described as “not serious” by Coach Tomlin.
Benny Snell Jr.: Very little query that Snell makes the roster. He’s a succesful rusher and a expertise on particular groups. Plus, Tomlin loves him some Benny Snell Football.
Anthony McFarland Jr.: Entering his third season, Ant Mac is trying to show his worth after his 2021 season was derailed by damage. He actually helped his trigger right this moment. McFarland was one of many few gamers used within the jet sweep handoff drill, indicating that he would have that position within the common season. During the 1v1 drill, he had an efficient double transfer on Myles Jack and pulled in a contested catch for an extended completion. He did it once more on the opposite sideline towards Devin Bush. He’s lastly wholesome and exhibiting that he can get separation with method along with pace. He capped off a profitable day with a dashing try in 11v11 breaking by way of defenders and sprinting down the sector with solely the endzone in entrance of him. McFarland’s inventory is up.
Jaylen Warren and Master Teague: Both operating backs confirmed a aggressive streak right this moment, ending even easy handoff drills with sturdy runs. That’s the sort of effort that will get a coach’s consideration. Warren confirmed a capability to dam in 11v11, giving Kenny Pickett time to finish his move. Both Warren and Teague additionally caught display screen passes and Warren was capable of flip upfield earlier than he was tackled. Both rookies present potential and it’ll fascinating to see how they carry out within the first preseason recreation in slightly over per week.
Mateo Durant: Another rookie attempting to make an announcement, Durant had a pleasant block in 7 photographs. Unfortunately, he completed observe on a cart that took him as much as the dorms. There was no clear damage and this will likely have simply been a case of dehydration or cramping, as he was reportedly getting cooled down with ice on the sideline. If he can return shortly, he might not lose an excessive amount of floor within the operating again competitors.
Pat Freiermuth: The undisputed starter, working his manner again from a hamstring damage. He was seen jogging and dealing with the opposite tight ends at first of observe, so he ought to return quickly.
Zach Gentry: Entering his fourth season with the Steelers, Gentry appears to have the backup tight finish position locked up. He is a dependable move-catcher and labored to enhance his blocking.
Kevin Rader: The third string tight finish in 2021, Rader had a quiet day at observe, apart from one very good leaping catch in 1v1 drills. He didn’t do something flawed, however he didn’t make a lot of an impression.
Jace Sternberger: After two seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Sternberger didn’t see the sector a lot. He is clearly the participant benefiting probably the most from Freiermuth’s time on the sideline and he has used his alternatives effectively. A TD in 7 photographs, a pleasant sideline catch in 1v1, and a number of completions in 11v11 means that he may displace Rader because the #3 tight finish.
Connor Heyward: Is he a decent finish? Or a operating again? He can clearly do each however the workforce appears to view him as a decent finish based mostly on place teams. Heyward had a unbelievable day, catching just about every little thing that got here his manner. He has sturdy fingers and catches the ball away from his physique earlier than securing it. He reveals nearly day by day that he has glorious situational consciousness. It shall be laborious for the Steelers to depart him off the roster.
Gunner Olszewski: Based on right this moment’s observe, that is actually Gunner’s job to lose. He reveals a confidence and luxury stage when fielding punts (the had been all both thrown or from the JUGS machine, not kicked by the punters) with certain fingers. He additionally appears capable of deal with the multitasking problem of watching the ball whereas watching the gamers racing down the sector in the direction of him. He can reduce with cease and go movement. He additionally has the very best hair on the workforce and the cockiness that every one good kick returners all appear to own.
Steven Sims: The clear runner up on this race. Sims doesn’t have the identical pure instincts that Olszewski reveals however persistently fields the ball effectively. He appears to want a second to evaluate the sector earlier than starting his return however did make some good cuts across the oncoming gunners.
Tyler Vaughns: This shouldn’t be the way in which that Vaughns will get a helmet on gameday. At instances he catches the ball towards his pads which is regarding for ball safety. He appears to be overthinking the catch which ends up in a lack of knowledge of the opposite gamers on the sector and he would have been laid out just a few instances if this had been a tackling drill. While calling for a good catch wasn’t an choice on this drill, it’s not clear if he would make good choices there.