It’s almost unfortunate to be Marcus Tucker. The only game in which he got the opportunity to see some decent quarterback play was last night, and he finally went off, but it was against reserves. Not only that, he is on a team that is very deep at wide receiver, and he will have to fight for even a spot on the practice squad.
It’s almost enough to make me hope that somebody else picks him up and gives him a chance to develop, because he is more than just a good story—winning a roster spot last year on Mother’s Day during rookie minicamp by having Mike Tomlin tell his mother over the phone—he is also a player with potential.
Tucker did more than just catch all five of his catchable targets for 83 yards, including multiple big plays on the eventual game-winning drive. He also demonstrated a knack for getting open, a willingness to block, and the ability to contribute on special teams, working as a gunner.
In a year in which the Steelers had bigger problems at wide receiver, I could even see Tucker making the 53-man roster, as crazy as that might sound. Capable of working out of the slot as well as on the outside, versatility often breeds job security.
But the team already has a bunch of players like this, including Eli Rogers, their starting slot receiver who also has in the past shown a willingness to block, and has the capability of serving as a punt returner should the team allow him to do it. Demarcus Ayers is also in the pipeline.
Reportedly, however, the first-year player, who spent last season on the practice squad, has been opening eyes all summer. I believe it was Jon Ledyard who first lamented the fact that so many of his reps had to come with Bart Houston at quarterback, who could not get him the ball. We saw that in the preseason opener when Houston missed him on two deep balls on which he was open.
Prior to last night’s game, Tucker only had three catches for 14 yards in the three previous preseason games, but that was more a product of his circumstances. He was given the opportunities, and the targets, and he made things happen.
The Northern Michigan product definitely has the potential to be an NFL contributor, and I know that there is more than one commenter on our boards who would like to see it happen. Unfortunately, it’s looking unlikely to happen in Pittsburgh.
If they are able to keep him on the practice squad this season—even potentially as an eighth total wide receiver along with Ayers—I certainly would not complain. After all, that is where your talent lies, so you might as well stock up. Who knows when you might need it; they did last year.