Pittsburgh Steelers first-year player Roosevelt Nix did not come to the team as a fullback, but it wasn’t before long that the team actually began working that he was moved there. And while he did not make the 53-man roster because of his ability to play the position, nor the team’s need there, the offense has found use for him on offense all the same, given that he has been active due to his special teams play anyway.
Nix serves as the up back on returns, but as we well know, the Steelers don’t get many returnable kickoffs. However, he has been able to contribute during the rare instances that the Steelers actually get to cover a kick. The kick coverage unit performed very well against the 49ers, in fact, three times pinning them down inside the 20.
Before finding an impact on special teams, however, Ben Roethlisberger threw him a bone on offense early in the game by throwing him the ball, replacing Will Johnson on second down and, surprisingly, lining up at the end of the line. Off the snap, he peeled out to the flat, where he caught the ball, though he was immediately tackled. San Francisco was flagged for being offside on the play.
Nix did not see many more snaps on offense until late in the game, but he did have a couple of opportunities on special teams. He registered a tackle on the Steelers’ first returnable kickoff, though he did so in unorthodox fashion. The 260-pounder dove into one of the 49ers’ wedge players, knocking him back into the returner at the 18-yard line. Whatever works.
Though he did not register the tackle on the kickoff to open the second half, Nix did his part to blow up San Francisco’s blocking scheme, taking out the nearest man on the back line with a jarring collision that opened the lane for others to make the tackle short of the 20.
Nix did get some work on offense in situational football, such as toward the end of the third quarter, when the Steelers were backed up at their own end zone following a turnover on downs.
From about the one and a half yard-line, the Steelers went heavy with a 22 look, Nix lined up at fullback in front of DeAngelo Williams. The fullback led the way through the left-side A gap , getting a nice pop on linebacker Michael Wilhoite to create space for his running back to get away from the goal line.
On the final meaningful play of the game, the Steelers were backed up at the one again after another turnover on downs, with Nix once again lead blocking, but this time for Jordan Todman.
Once again out of 22 personnel, Nix hit the left-side A gap yet again, driving back Wilhoite five yards back from the point of contact. He may have a limited skill set, but he is a fullback who can move a man back in straight line. And his special teams play, for now, will keep his helmet on for games.