I may not have been the first person on the ‘G-Train’—in fact, I don’t know that I am—but after yesterday’s game, I don’t think I will be the last, either. The ‘G-Train’ is the likely now growing consortium of people who are of the belief that tight end Xavier Grimble deserves playing time to see how he can contribute.
Last week, I highlighted some key moments for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-year tight end from the season-opening game, which featured exclusively blocks, since he was not targeted at all in the passing game. He had a couple of nice plays, including one instance in which he turned an edge rusher out of the running lane in a one-on-one matchup.
Yesterday, however, he also got himself on the stat sheet, and he did so in impressive fashion, as he made his first catch a 20-yard touchdown strike that included him diving outstretched into the end zone in order to ensure that he crossed the goal line before his knee touching down after being contacted by a defender.
It was a nifty play from the young tight end, but evidently nothing that would be surprising among those who has consistently seen him perform in practice. The issue has always appeared to be whether or not he can consistently make catches and throw blocks, whether of the spectacular or the routine variety.
While it is still in the early hours after the game and I have not had the opportunity to dig in too deep into his playing time, it would seem that he played well, with relative consistency, throughout his playing time, and that he probably played about the same or a bit more than he did last week.
Although Grimble was ‘officially’ targeted four times during the game, at least one occasion was a glorified throwaway pass under pressure, while another likely should have drawn a pass interference call. He also came up with a six-yard reception on third and one in the middle of the third quarter.
We will have a more detailed revisitation of Grimble’s performance when we have a proper snap count and usage rate for him and dig into his overall performance as a blocker, but as was the case last week, they still appear to be using him, when in the game, as the primary in-line blocking tight end.
While Grimble did not start, he was in on the second play of the game in a three-tight-end set, where he was assigned to block the Bengals’ left defensive end on an inside run. He was mixed in both with two and with three tight ends on the field.
If there is one concern about his future tenure going forward, it is that he appears still not to be contributing on special teams, which is the key to a helmet on game day for the players lower on the depth chart. His roster spot could still be vulnerable when Ladarius Green returns.