Generally, when a player toward the bottom of the roster is replaced by somebody else due to an injury in the middle of training camp, it is rare for there to be anything but unfounded hopes of what that new player might bring. Yet time and again, one of these players do manage to make the roster.
If any of them manage to do so this year, it will likely be tight end Jake McGee, who was an undrafted rookie signed to replace undrafted rookie tight end Scott Orndoff. While he only got playing time in the fourth quarter for the Pittsburgh Steelers, I liked what I saw.
I mentioned that earlier in the week, but I thought it would be best to show you. While I am not exactly marking him down for a roster spot right now—there is still a lot more that he must show—he did get off to a promising start, that drew praise from head coach Mike Tomlin, which never hurts.
Some of the Steelers’ best runs of the night—specifically those by Terrell Watson—owe a debt of gratitude to McGee’s blocking, so that is what I will showcase here. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the rookie tight end executed the team’s staple counter trap very well with a pulling lead block on a chasing defender for an eight-yard gain.
A handful of plays later to end the drive, they ran the same play again, and this time with even better results. McGee caught the same defensive back once again and harassed him out of the way. The tight end showed surprising quickness, agility, and force in doing so, all encouraging assets.
Late in the quarter, toward the end of the game, they continued running that same play, only this time McGee’s block did not go to the perimeter, but rather folded inside the pulling guards, which helped to produce a seven-yard run up the middle.
Still later, as the Steelers were running out the block, he finally got the opportunity to execute something the realm of a base block. Set behind the line of scrimmage, he led through the C gap and met the middle linebacker, sticking his block and helping to create a crease for a five-yard gain.
As I mentioned in a previous article, McGee also looked pretty fluid and quick in the very little action that he saw running routes. I will be looking forward to him being more involved, perhaps, in the second and fourth preseason games, but special teams will ultimately be his best friend.