I think it would be fair to say that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Marcus Tucker might not have a job in the NFL right now had it not been for the fourth quarter of the team’s final preseason game. The vast majority of his production of the preseasons came in the last several minutes of the game, and he is now on the practice squad largely because of it.
The first-year player actually did spend some of last season on the practice squad as well, after Cobi Hamilton got called up to the 53-man roster. This time, he made it over Hamilton, and would have made it regardless of whether or not Demarcus Ayers turned Pittsburgh’s offer down.
Plain and simply, the undrafted free agent looks like a guy who can play a little bit, but he didn’t get much playing time with anybody who could actually get him the ball. Joshua Dobbs finally filled that role last week.
He had several big catches against the Panthers, three of them converting on third down in the fourth quarter. He had one prior to the final two drives late in the quarter on which it appears he was able to run the cornerback off coverage to come back and make an easy reception.
Much later in the quarter, he added another reception moving the chains. With time running out, he had to beat on defender in the open field in order not only to get the first down, but also to get out of bounds and stop the clock.
That ultimately proved not to matter after Hamilton fumbled at the goal line at the end of that drive as he was about to score, so it was up to Tucker to come up with a couple of huge plays with under 30 seconds left to help win the game.
The first of the two came from midfield with the offense facing a third and seven. Tucker worked a drag route all the way from the right side of the field, forcing a couple of defenders to pick each other off. That left him running free for the easy reception, showing some speed to get some extra yardage and get out of bounds before any Panthers got to him.
Just after that, it was Tucker Time again. Dobbs looked his way from the 35-yard line. The ball was underthrown, but he came back for it and fought off two defenders for extra yardage near the goal line. Once he realized he was not going to score, he muscled his way out of bounds.
While this film sessions doesn’t show it, he also contributes in other ways. He has returned kicks and served as a gunner on punts, and he has also displayed a willingness to block in the running game. I can see why they decided to keep him around.