The old saying is the most popular player on the team is the backup quarterback.
In Pittsburgh, it’s arguably the fullback. Sorry Landry Jones.
Roosevelt Nix came into training camp a long-shot. Will Johnson was on the roster and had secured his spot from Day One – what chance did this former defensive lineman have?
Yet here we are, gushing over another impact play Nix has made. Sunday, it came in the form of a forced fumble on a kickoff that the Steelers would recover and score on a few plays later.
Danny Smith talked about the play with Bob Labriola on Steelers Nation Radio’s Coordinator’s Corner.
“He came in here with a knack to find the football. That’s how he made this football team,” Smith told Labriola. “We set him up in situations where he can go get the ball. I’ve been working with him in certain situations, and it was vintage. He came in here Monday morning and he was proud obviously.”
Smith seemed to be even more encouraged not just by the freak forced fumble, but the fact Nix hit the returner so deep in Oakland Raiders‘ territory.
“To make that play at that spot…trust me, to hit a guy at the ten yard line, you’re doing something pretty good.”
For a first year player (Smith hates the term, by the way), it’s rewarding for player and coach to see a guy take coaching and translate it to the football field.
“When you’re working with the young guys, and you’re teaching them things and they see the production on the field as a result of it, you got ’em. He’s a very coachable guy. He’s very in-tuned to what we’re doing, how we’re doing it. He’s got a great work ethic. He’s tough. He’s physical and he’s a good football player.”
After Sunday, Nix has played more special teams and offensive snaps than Johnson. Johnson has been phased out of the offense and the strong play of Jesse James will only continue that trend.
Nix has eight tackles this season which would rank him right up there at or close to the team lead on special teams. His stellar play on the team’s coverage unit has been evident all season long. And with the impact play Sunday, he’s finally garnered some real attention.