The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Demarcus Ayers
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 1 Year
Not much was thought of Demarcus Ayers when the Steelers used a seventh-round draft pick on him during the 2016 NFL Draft. It didn’t help that it was their special teams coach, and not even their wide receivers coach, who went out to address the media following the selection, as it appears that their reason for drafting him was based on how they valued him as a punt returner.
But those who were familiar with his college statistics knew that he was more than just a returner on special teams, and he showed some promise during the preseason on limited opportunities, even getting a couple of opportunities to execute an end-around.
He did show enough to earn a spot on the practice squad, and as fate would have it, the Steelers ended up having quite a bit of injury issues at the wide receiver position during the season, so much so that they called up not one, but two wide receivers from the practice squad by the end of the year.
Ayers was finally called up for Week 15—his signing to the 53-man roster was delayed a couple of weeks because they had to deal with an injury to their kicker—and immediately showed that he was more than just a receiver. His first play in the NFL saw him throw a block in the running game against Eric Weddle.
He caught one pass for nine yards in his NFL debut on Christmas day against the Ravens. With the team resting starters in the season finale, he got a much bigger opportunity to play, and he caught five passes for 44 yards and a touchdown, though he also had a disastrous end-around in that game.
He continued to play in the postseason, catching two passes for 21 yards against the Dolphins and one for six against the Chiefs, but he evidently at some point suffered an injury, and ended up being inactive for the Patriots game.
Ayers showed that he has a place on an NFL 53-man roster, but it’s not clear that he will have such a place with the Steelers due to their depth. The best thing he can do between now and the 2017 regular season is to make himself competitive for a return position.