It no longer seems necessary to provide the backstory of Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix, a first-year player who started out at linebacker with the club back in January before being moved to the offensive side of the ball and ultimately sticking on the 53-man roster coming out of the preseason.
It no longer seems relevant to do so because writing about him has become normal, a sure sign that the 260-pounder is here to stay for the immediate future, a truth confirmed after the Steelers chose to release their fifth safety—in spite of injuries at the position—in order to make room for the activation of wide receiver Martavis Bryant yesterday.
Make no mistake, of course, Nix is on the roster because he has shown himself to be a standout special teams contributor since he’s gotten here, as evidenced by his work during the preseason, which has continued through into the regular season—even in spite of the significant uptick in touchbacks.
What really sealed his roster spot was the blocked punt that he registered in the preseason finale, though it was certainly looking more and more like the Steelers would make a spot for him as each week of the exhibition schedule ticked by and he continued to make plays.
While Nix is officially credited with four tackles through the first five games, it may be more than that, and he contributes beyond simply making tackles, including blowing up wedges to create lanes for others to make the tackle.
On Monday night in San Diego, he notched yet another tackle, and it was a good one. With the Steelers punting from their own 27, the punt only traveled 38 yards to the Chargers’ 35, and what’s more, there seemed to be a window for a return.
After what may have been a missed block in the back call, returner Jacoby Jones was able to turn upfield, rushing all the way to the right sideline, but Nix made the tackle after just a five-yard return, beating a blocker to do so and cutting the returner down.
Indeed, it is plays like that, and the hustle that it entails, that will assure Nix of his spot on the 53-man roster for the remainder of the season at least, barring the unforeseen, because he has shown the ability to have an impact on a game by limiting the starting field position of the Steelers’ opponents.
Of course, it isn’t just on special teams that the 23-year-old out of James Harrison’s alma mater is contributing, either. Nix has logged 30 snaps on offense as the fullback—and at least once as an in-line blocker—over the course of the first five games.
It seems safe by now to call him a Mike Tomlin guy, especially after the head coach gave him the nod on Le’Veon Bell’s walk-off touchdown run, and singled him out for congratulations for a job well done once the ruling came in and things had settled down. That’s a good way to stick around.