Training camp is now upon us, in case you have failed to take notice. The Pittsburgh Steelers reported to Latrobe on July 28, and began practicing the following day in preparation for their first preseason game on August 12, and eventually, for the 2016 regular season in April.
Every NFL season is like an investigation of sorts, with the offseason and preseason serving as the fact-finding portion, gathering the questions that are most prudent to ask in order to understand the story of the team in the current season. And it is in training camp that we really begin to start finding the answers to those questions.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in training camp and the preseason looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they head into a regular season in which they are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Game Edition – How will Xavier Grimble look? Bound for the 53-man roster, or the practice squad?
It seems to me that there is a game on tonight, and that the Steelers will be playing in it, so I figured that today’s question should focus on an aspect of that game. A particularly pertinent question in light of the news yesterday about Ladarius Green’s recurring headaches is about a fringe player looking to make the roster at tight end: Xavier Grimble.
A 2014 undrafted free agent, Grimble has already bounced around the practice squads, and spent all of last season on the Steelers’, during which he got some praise here and there from players, coaches, and even the general manager.
With the retirement of Heath Miller and the release of Matt Spaeth with a failed physical, the door is open for Grimble, and virtually guaranteed should Green be forced to start the season on the physically unable to perform list or worse. And given his situation, they may not want to risk him on the practice squad anyway.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to see how he looks in a game. We’ve heard the training camp reports, which reveal a potentially flashy but inconsistent talent who makes impressive catches but also drops balls that he should be reeling in.
An equally important factor is how he looks in the run game and in pass protection. I want to see how much work he gets in two-tight-end sets tonight with what will have to pass for now as the ‘first-team’ offense, shy of about half of the first-team personnel.
Whether or not he sees much time early in the game, he is likely to see a ton of time throughout, along with James, who is only going into his second season. James is the favorite to be the number two tight end, and may even end up starting unless Green can get on the practice field, so he obviously needs reps.
But Grimble needs them too, and you can expect him to get them with Green out and David Johnson likely to be given light work. Will Grimble look like a guy bound for the 53-man roster or the practice squad? That’s the question of the day.