Rookie Minicamps Proving Fruitful For Latest Roster Additions

Just an obvious side note here. No practice report today because of the washout. It poured and I mean, poured. As if every rain drop on earth collecting over St. Vincent College. So for the first time in forever, the practice was moved to the indoor gymnasium. That’s only for the fancy credential-swinging media so I wasn’t present for that session. I’m sure very little of note took place. Maybe a dodgeball game broke out.

The biggest headline of the day was the predictable slew of roster moves the Pittsburgh Steelers made following their first preseason game. Dave Bryan outlined them earlier: OT Wade Hansen, DT Khaynin Mosley-Smith and CB Julian Whigham.

Two of that trio, Hansen and Mosley-Smith, spent the three day extended weekend with the team during rookie minicamp. The team wound up signing four players out of it – running backs Cameron Stingily and Brandon Brown-Dukes, wide receiver Marcus Tucker, and cornerback Donald Washington – one of the highest figures over the past five years. All four have generally proven to be worthwhile additions, though Washington may have already fallen out of favor with the team, playing zero defensive snaps Friday night.

Hansen’s story in particular is really unique. A former D-III defensive tackle who battled Lyme Disease who walked onto Virginia Tech and became a starter.

Of course, in-camp signings from the rookie minicamp pool aren’t uncommon. But these transactions serve as a reminder that getting that invite, even if not ultimately signed out of it, is a foot and the door and acts as a business card to the team. Ready to be called up whenever needed.

It happened once last season. Jawon Chisholm lost the tryout bid to Stingily initially but was brought in following Ross Scheuerman’s Achilles injury, spending the rest of camp with the team. That ultimately didn’t lead to permanent placement by added to his resume and even more basic than that, let a small school kid from Akron live an NFL dream for a month.

And in most years, several tryout players receive callbacks. In 2014, Jordan Hall was signed a month after the fact while Lew Toler was picked back up a few days before camp opened. Dayonne Nunley signed with the team during camp. This, despite the fact, no player was signed to the 90 man roster immediately out of rookie mini-camp.

This certainly isn’t an “exciting” topic, it’s quite literally my rainy day article, but it reminds us that every player is important and every player has a chance, even if their career seems to flame out before it begins. There is no such thing as “camp bodies.” To use the phrase is an insult to the individual. They’re a person, a football player, who made unbelievable sacrifices and strides to even reach this point of a career, Hansen’s story a perfect example.

And occasionally, they become players you watch on Sundays.

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