At this point in the offseason, we find that training camp is just around the corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the league, and a lot has changed for them over the course of the past several months. They have lost a number of players in free agency, through releases, and retirements. But they have also brought in a number of new faces to replace them.
We all know that roster turnover is an ever-present reality for today’s rosters, and it seems that over the course of the past half-decade or so even the Steelers have proven to be as susceptible to the annual shakeup as anybody. With that in mind, we should take the time to get to know some of the new faces with training camp soon to be here.
While he was not drafted or acquired via free agency, first-year tight end Xavier Grimble remains a new face when it comes to possibly providing an answer to the depth question at tight end the Steelers are facing after losing their top two at the position from a year ago to retirement and injury.
Grimble spent the 2015 season on the Steelers’ practice squad, but he was a late addition in the offseason, having been added after the team had made their two sets of roster cuts from the initial 90-man roster.
In other words, Grimble was not a part of that 90-man roster, but in fact on another team, and thus had not even had a training camp experience with the Steelers, nor OTAs or minicamp. He is just now getting his first taste of going through a full and proper offseason with the Steelers, a significant change from last season.
In 2015, as a practice squad player, Grimble was not give many opportunities to hone his craft or demonstrate his abilities, his time instead reserved to helping the starters practice for their upcoming opponents by serving on the scout team, often likely emulating on of their next opponents’ tight ends.
There should, then, be a lot of progress underway when it comes to the 2014 undrafted free agent rounding into whatever sort of player it is that he might be when all is said and done. And it cannot be said that there is not a roster spot open for him if he shows worthy enough to claim it for himself.
During the 2015 season, and in the early stages of the 2016 offseason, we did hear whisperings of his name from select members of the coaching staff, in particular the offensive coordinator, noting that he had been making some noteworthy plays as a pass catcher during practice, which gave people hope for his future.
That future is now if he is fit to seize it. Particularly while the projected starting tight end, Ladarius Green, remains sidelined. He has gotten plenty of work, but has suffered from some drops, as well as cramping due to his being unused to humid climates. It’s time for him to get over that rather quickly.