With the Pittsburgh Steelers set to hold their first training camp practice of 2016 on Friday, second-year tight end Jesse James figures to immediately start receiving all of the first-team reps on offense with Ladarius Green on the team’s Active/PUP list. James, who reportedly lost 20 pounds during the offseason, said Thursday upon arriving at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe that he expects to show that he’s capable and complete tight end.
“I think I can be a tight end, an all-around player,” said James, who was drafted last year in the fifth-round out of Penn State. “I feel blocking, I’m going to be needed there as well and in the passing game. I can’t be a one-dimensional guy in this offense, especially you know Coach Haley is going to find a way to use you. So if you give him more options, more things he can do with you, it’s better.”
While James only played 181 total offensive snaps last season as a rookie, he did manage to catch 8 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. He also showed glimpses that he could block out in space during the season.
“Yeah, I feel very confident in my ability to block,” James said Thursday.
Now that Heath Miller has retired and Matt Spaeth was released, James, at worst, will be the team’s second tight end in the team’s two tight end personnel groupings this upcoming season. While the team did sign Green to a four-year, $20 million contract during the offseason, he’s yet to practice as he continues to recover from ankle surgery. Because of that, James could quite possibly see time as a lone tight end in 11 personnel groupings at the start of the regular season.
If James is indeed able to show during training camp and the preseason that he is a complete tight end, it will certainly add another dimension to the offense.