The Pittsburgh Steelers chose not to dress rookie tight end Jesse James for the first eight games of the season. The Penn State product, however, made his debut Sunday at Heinz Field and it was memorable one that included him registering his first career touchdown reception.
“It helped in a big way not playing early,” said James, according to Teresa Varley of steelers.com. “You go out there week one and don’t know what to expect. I didn’t go through that. I knew what to expect, especially after eight weeks. I was able to learn what the sidelines are like, how Matt [Spaeth] and Heath [Miller] communicate throughout the game. I felt great. I felt like I was there before and it was nothing new.
“It was great getting to play. It was a lot of fun. It was a close game and it kept it interesting the whole time. I enjoyed every second of it and tried to take advantage of my opportunity.”
When James made his first-career reception early in the game, the Steelers fans at Heinz Field thought it was veteran Heath Miller and they let loose with the familiar ‘Heeeath’ call.
“I heard it,” said James. “It was a great feeling to make the catch. That didn’t take anything away from it. It was awesome. It was nice to get it out of the way early in the game and I didn’t have to worry about it. It’s always good to make productive plays, especially early in the game.”
James was afforded the opportunity to dress and play Sunday against the Oakland Raiders due to veteran tight end Matt Spaeth missing the game due to a knee injury. James saw the field quite a bit in his first action in the NFL as he played 33 total offensive snaps. He also caught one other pass in the game that was good for 9 yards.
It will be interesting to see what happens with James this Sunday at home against the Cleveland Browns if Spaeth is healthy enough to play as he very well could wind up going back to the inactive list. Regardless, it was good to see him finally hit the field this past Sunday and contribute in a Steelers win.