The Pittsburgh Steelers added four primary outside free agents earlier in the offseason and with five training camp practices now in the books, it appears as though all are solid additions and potential contributors for the upcoming 2017 season.
Of the four primary outside free agents added this offseason, wide receiver Justin Hunter, defensive end Tyson Alualu, cornerback Coty Sensabaugh and running back Knile Davis, Hunter appears to have received the most press so far when it comes to positive practice play. During his Wednesday talk with the media, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked positively about his newest tall wide receiver.
“It’s been really good, I don’t want to get too excited too early, but I really like the presence that he brings,” Roethlisberger said of Hunter. “A veteran guy, you know it’s not like it’s his first year. He understands the NFL and what it takes and works hard. And really, I’m excited about what he can bring.”
Hunter is getting plenty of opportunities to shine early in training camp as Martavis Bryant has yet to practice at Saint Vincent College due to problems with his conditional reinstatement and Sammie Coates starting off his time in Latrobe on the Active PUP list with a knee issue. Hunter has shown to be a legitimate red zone threat so far during practices in addition to being a deep threat.
As for Alualu, the Steelers most expensive offseason free agent addition, he’s reportedly put together a nice string of practices the last few days and appears to be locked in as the primary backup to starting defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
“Alualu continues to shine,” Alex Kozora wrote on Wednesday. “Heavy hands, great upper body strength, high football IQ and a relentless motor.”
Alualu comes to the Steelers with a high pedigree as he was a former first-round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Sensabaugh, who might just be the Steelers most underrated offseason free agent addition, he has reportedly been working exclusively on the outside so far during training camp practices. Thats perhaps a bit of a surprise being as he has played in the slot most of his NFL career.
During his Thursday morning show, former offensive lineman and current team radio color-man Tunch Ilkin indicated that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Sensabaugh push last year’s outside starter Ross Cockrell for his spot as the summer progresses. We’ll see if that ultimately happens, but at worse, Sensabaugh will likely be the first outside cornerback off the bench during the 2017 regular season.
When it comes to Davis, who has spent most of his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, he’s reportedly broke off a few nice runs through the teams first five training camp practices. While his play at running back will be closely scrutinized throughout the rest of training camp and the preseason, how he ultimately performs as a kick returner might ultimately be the deciding factor when it comes to him making the final 53-man roster this year.
While these four players certainly didn’t set the NFL transaction wire ablaze back in March when they were signed, as the Steelers training camp enters it’s second phase, all four could wind up being hot additions by general manager Kevin Colbert.