With the start of training camp quickly approaching, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jordan Zumwalt hopes that his third trip to Latrobe will be much different than his first two.
Zumwalt, who was drafted by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of UCLA, has spent the last two seasons on the team’s Reserve/Injured list and thus has yet to play a regular-season.
Now that he’s presumably back to full health after recovering from a hip injury that required surgery last year, Zumwalt is eager to get back onto the fields at Latrobe again and show the Steelers he’s worth keeping on the 53-man roster this year.
“My expectation is to compete, compete, compete,” Zumwalt told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s the one thing I’ve always loved to do. I’ll always continue to do that. It doesn’t matter who they bring in or how many guys they bring in. I’m competing with them, but I’m trying to help them out as much as possible. But I’m trying to earn my right to be here. That’s what I’ve been trying to do for the past few years, and I’ve just been held back a little bit.”
Since Zumwalt was selected, the Steelers have added several other linebackers to the mix via either the draft or free agency and those players include Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, Steven Johnson, L.J. Fort, Travis Feeney and Tyler Matakevich. Additionally, the organization has also parted ways with two other experienced linebackers in Sean Spence and Terence Garvin. Sitting around watching several of these other linebackers practice and compete over the course of the last two years has admittedly been tough for Zumwalt.
“It’s been a very humbling road, I see everybody running around healthy and they don’t really realize what they have,” Zumwalt told Fittipaldo. “It gave me more of an appreciation than I ever have had. It’s hard to explain.”
If Zumwalt is indeed going to make the Steelers final 53-man roster this year, he most definitely will have to do so by making an impact on special teams during the preseason as the team’s depth chart is already overflowing at the inside linebacker position. That won’t be an easy task for Zumwalt, who figures to be battling Fort and Matakevich for what could ultimately wind up being the 53rd spot on the team’s roster. As of right now in late June, Zumwalt feels like he’s making great strides at getting his career back on track and at least make it tough for the coaches to cut him.
“I have to get my quickness back, my speed back, I have my strength back. I have my size back. I have everything I need to push forward. Everything is going well,” Zumwalt said.