Steelers’ Nation is showing the love to Jerald Hawkins. Earlier, Matthew Marczi wrote that Hawkins’ stock is up, a fair and accurate point. That stock only continues to rise after hearing what Ramon Foster said about the second year linemen after practice today.
Speaking with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews, Foster said he was excited to watch Hawkins get back onto the field.
“Jerald is a guy if he would’ve come out this year, he wouldn’t have gone no less than the second round. He’s a talented, talented linemen. To have him in the fold, have him healthy, he’s looking forward to it. You can tell his work ethic has paid off this offseason, too.”
Hawkins missed all of last year with a shoulder injury suffered during training camp. But we spotted some photos of him taking part in Phase Two of the offseason and the team site showed some clips of him in warmups, showing full mobility in his shoulders. It seems very likely he is at or near 100%.
His tape at LSU never looked good but it was a college career marred by injury and position changes. Hawkins entered Latrobe healthy and looked strong in its first few weeks before it came to a crashing halt. Now, the optimism is back and Hawkins has the benefit of having a year under his belt mentally.
It’s time for him to get back into football shape and condition, something Foster said was partly the purpose of these OTA sessions, which run through June 8th.
“Overall, conditioning,” he told Matthews on what the critical aspects of OTAs are. “This is going to be a big year for us. We, as an offensive line unit, have a big target on our back with the accolades that we got last year. Bigger spotlight, bigger target for us.”
It has the potential of a long season, just as 2016 was. Training camp, preseason games, a 16 game regular season slate and hopefully, several in the playoffs too. Hawkins likely isn’t to be apart of that starting lineup but he’ll be a solid piece of depth and maybe anoint the Steelers’ offensive line as the best in the league top to bottom.
Jerald Hawkins. Buy. Buy. Buy.