While it’s hard to get too excited about undrafted players signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers three weeks into the team’s annual OTA practices, if you like big blocking tight ends, newly signed Michigan State product Paul Lang might certainly be worth watching closely throughout the rest of the offseason.
While Lang only had 15 career catches for 136 yards in the 50 games that he played in during college career, the Pittsburgh native, who went to Mount Lebanon High School, was impressive as a blocker at Michigan State and that was his primary role in their offense.
Lang talked Wednesday about the challenges that he faces now that he’s been signed so late in the offseason and that includes him needing to quickly grasp the offensive playbook.
“It’s a big challenge, definitely,” Lang told Teresa Varley of steelers.com. “The main thing is getting the playbook down so you can play full speed and not overthink. You want to get out there and be fluid in your motions. So it’s definitely a challenge, but you got to get into your playbook and study hard.”
Lang, who measured in at his March pro day at 6044, 259-pounds, did admit that his early transition with the Steelers is being helped along by the other tight ends already on the roster.
“They’ve helped out so much,” said Lang. “Just today I was with Matt Spaeth a lot and Coach J.D. [James Daniel] just having them next to me talking me through all of the plays and then today after practice I was just working with Landry Jones. He was talking me through some specific routes, so definitely a lot of people have helped out.”
Despite only being primarily used at Michigan State as a blocker, Lang believes he can show the Steelers coaching staff just how well-rounded he is moving forward.
“I think I’m very versatile, so I think I can help out in that way,” said Lang. “I can play both the “Y” position and the “F” position and play a little bit of fullback. So I think our sound blocking, obviously you want to improve in every aspect of the game, but I also have sound receiving.”
Optimism aside, Lang now faces a huge uphill battle when it comes to making the Steelers final 53-man roster this year out of training camp, assuming he can stick on the roster until then. Not only will he likely need to beat out longtime Steeler Matt Spaeth, Lang will also need to pass veteran David Johnson and Xavier Grimble on the team’s depth chart. Lang, however, should get plenty of practice reps between now and the start of training camp being as Spaeth and fellow tight end Ladarius Green aren’t expected to do much until the team reports to Latrobe being as both are currently rehabbing from offseason surgeries.
“It’s such a great opportunity and being in my hometown, it’s awesome to be here and it’s up to me now to make the most of it,” said Lang. “I grew up watching this team, grew up rooting for them, so I’m honored to be here.”