Pittsburgh Steelers first-year running back Trey Williams made a splash Sunday with his 64-yard punt return for a touchdown, the first score on a punt return in the preseason for the team since 2009. We have since been wondering if that splash would produce any ripples, and according to what he told Chris Adamski during practice yesterday, perhaps there will be.
The former undrafted free agent confirmed to the Pittsburgh Tribune reporter that he was getting work during practice on kick returns, which is something that he did little to none of in a serious capacity during training camp.
Trey Williams confirmed he was returning kickoffs today in practice
After having a punt return TD last week, maybe he getting serious look?
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) August 24, 2017
The opportunity to work both punt returns and kick returns would greatly improve the hopeful’s shot of making the 53-man roster, where he already finds himself toward the back end of a group vying for the third spot on the running back depth chart that also includes Fitzgerald Toussaint, Knile Davis, and Terrell Watson.
All three backs also have experience on kick returns, either at the professional level or in college, with Davis having had the most success at the NFL level. But the former Chief lost his job last season and ended up being cut, only to wind up back in Kansas City a short while later.
While nobody has as yet flashed much on kick returns during the preseason, all three running backs have done capably on offense as ball carriers, and I believe both Toussaint and Davis have recorded at least one tackle on special teams.
As for Williams, the 5’7” back under 200 pounds, he has yet to receive work on the offensive side of the ball. That could change. But getting to work kick returns over the course of the next two preseason games, if given the chance, would be a big opportunity for him.
With impressive shiftiness and play speed, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that he makes a push for a roster spot. Returning a kick for a touchdown would go a long way toward achieving that goal.
Tomorrow’s game definitely bears watching. Being given the opportunity to return kicks would be an obvious development to note, but if he is also given work on offense, that would strongly indicate that they would like him to throw his hat into the ring.
That might be difficult with James Conner needing the work as a rookie expected to serve as the number two behind Le’Veon Bell, and with Toussaint and Davis still vying between themselves. He may have to wait for the final preseason game to see meaningful snaps there. We should soon see how far this latest ripple might extend.