Though no Hall of Fame speech has ever started with “rookie minicamp,” one cornerback made some noise over the initial three down weekend last week.
Montell Garner was labeled as a player “to watch” by Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola, who was in attendance for two of the three days. The final practice on Sunday was closed off to the media.
According to Labriola, Garner picked off three passes over the weekend. He, as we all know, admits it’s coming against weak competition in shells, but making those sorts of splash plays is a great initial impression to make.
Garner, 24, signed a futures deal back in January. After spending two years at the JUCO level, he transferred to South Alabama as the school was making its transition to the FBS level. He picked off five passes in his two seasons with the Jaguars.
He was signed by the St. Louis Rams, sticking for the entire preseason, but let go at final cutdowns and spent the regular season on the street. The AFL Orlando Predators signed Garner for a week before the Steelers came calling. Read back to our Futures’ Report for the full skinny on his background.
But predictably, Garner will have his work cut out for him. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ top four cornerbacks are set in stone with Doran Grant having the clear inside track on the #5 spot. Garner will be competing with fellow future contractor Al-Hajj Shabazz and veteran Donald Washington, signed following the rookie minicamp. The best case scenario is for the Steelers to keep six corners on the 53. Even if the team allocates just five, a cornerback is almost certain to be kept on the practice squad, giving Garner a legitimate chance to stick around.
And if Garner is able to make those same splash plays come August, he’ll capture the attention of fans – and coaches.