With spring drills officially over, I think we all understand that we’re all in for a long haul, six weeks in total, between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp. You know the drill. There’s little new information coming out during this period, so it serves as the perfect time both to look back, and to look ahead.
We’re going to be focusing mostly on the latter as we prepare—ever so patiently, of course—for training camp. The Pittsburgh Steelers right now have a fairly young roster with inexperienced players that they are hoping to take on a bigger role. The problem is that in many cases, they are still waiting on those players to show them something, and that is the focus of that series—as well as the occasional veteran with lingering questions.
Show me something, Xavier Grimble.
Xavier Grimble is one of those players who has been talked about far more than he has been seen, and much of that has to do with the fact that he literally hasn’t been seen by anybody who isn’t a credentialed reporter covering the Steelers with media access during OTAs and minicamp.
Originally an undrafted free agent in 2014 after declaring as an underclassman, Grimble remains a first-year player after two years in the league bouncing around practice squad and offseason rosters. He was not on the Steelers’ roster at all during the offseason.
The former USC product only joined the Steelers organization following final roster cuts, and after teams began assembling their practice squads. If I recall correctly, he was not even the first tight end they added to the practice squad, but was rather added a day later when they were unsatisfied with the first one.
But Grimble stuck on the practice squad for the entire season and was re-signed after the year on a Reserve/Future contract. In the interim, he got a mention or two from the likes of offensive coordinator Todd Haley as an intriguing player, but for a player in a position such as himself, intrigue is all there is to go on at the moment.
With the retirement of Heath Miller, there is an opportunity for Grimble to make the 53-man roster, even with the other moves that they have made at the position, and thy could even end up carrying four tight ends, as they did last year, and have on occasion in previous seasons.
He is, though, an interesting prospect with fine height and weight for the position, but he is also athletic, and it has shown, reportedly, in practice, having made some noteworthy catches that drew reactions from teammates and coaches alike during in-season and offseason practices.
It will soon be time for him to show what he can do against other teams in the preseason, and his journey toward a roster spot is made all the more difficult by the possibility that it may necessitate carrying an extra tight end. To that end, he will have to make himself quite useful on special teams as Michael Palmer once did.