JJ Wilcox was the last Pittsburgh Steeler on the boat before they set sail on the 2017 season. And he’s proving to be capable of keeping the safety group afloat.
Wilcox earned his first start last Sunday, filling in for an injured Mike Mitchell, missing the first game of his Steelers’ career. Asked how he performed and Mike Tomlin sounded impressed.
“Glad we acquired him,” Tomlin said. “He’s a solid veteran guy who knows how to play. Has played a lot of football. He’s been helpful to us. We’ve had some injuries at that position over a short period of time. Last week, as we sat here, I wasn’t sure if we were going to have Mike Mitchell or Sean Davis. Glad obviously JJ is apart of us and doing what he’s doing.”
Through the first month of the year, Wilcox has 10 tackles, a pass deflection, and key interception against the Chicago Bears. It hasn’t always been pretty, Wilcox has taken some bad angles and missed some alley fills, but he’s been true to his nature as a reckless, hard-hitting player. That fits in well with the Steelers’ culture so it’s no surprise to hear he’s fitting in well.
Tomlin said he believed Wilcox is able to play both safety spots but cautioned the sample size is small, making it hard to believe so with complete confidence.
On the field, though, Wilcox has stepped in at both safety spots when Mitchell and Sean Davis have missed time. He’s clearly forced Robert Golden into a reserve, special teams role, and that’ll probably remain that way for the rest of the season.
Not only has the starters in the secondary been upgraded but the depth has as well. Coty Sensabaugh is a steady vet who can play anywhere and the Steelers will get Cam Sutton back in a little over a month. Wilcox, as Tomlin said, has plenty of experience and has shown the ability to wear multiple hats.