Marcus Tucker just completed his third rookie minicamp with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the weekend. That can be taken as a bad thing, but at least he knows he has a spot on the 90-man roster. Flash back to two years ago and he had no idea he wasn’t going home as camp wrapped up.
The undrafted free agent was a tryout player for the Steelers in 2016, who somewhat famously overheard that he would be making the roster after having a successful showing. Tucker got up the courage to ask Head Coach Mike Tomlin if he could get on the phone with his mother and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. He did, and told her that her son is getting a contract to play for the Steelers.
He has made progress little by little since then. He spent time toward the end of his rookie season on Pittsburgh’s practice squad in 2016. Last year, he was on the practice squad the entire campaign after having a pretty strong season. He’s hoping to make the jump to the 53-man roster once and for all this time.
Part of what fuels him is his belief that the Steelers genuinely give everybody their opportunity to earn their keep. “This is the place where they say all the time that they don’t care about the means that you get here, they care about the spirit in which you do your work”, he told Joe Rutter over the weekend.
This will be his third training camp, but he has improved his odds year by year. Tucker may be sitting about fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now, realistically. But he knows there will be a great amount of competition, and that he will also have to show that he can contribute on special teams if he is going to be on the back end of the roster.
“I’m here for whatever the coaches need, whatever they want and to work hard”, he said on Saturday. “That’s pretty much been my M.O. since I got into the building. Whatever they need me to be, whatever they need me to do, I’m all in. That’s kind of my attitude, very blue collar”.
There is an opportunity (there’s that word again) for Tucker this season with the departure of Martavis Bryant and the fact that Eli Rogers remains unsigned as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL. Justin Hunter is certainly not guaranteed another year on the roster, either.
That is three wide receivers that could be removed from the equation from last year, though they added James Washington in the draft, and Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster are not going anywhere. But that trio represents the only true locks.
Darrius Heyward-Bey always has a good chance of making the roster, but is never guaranteed a spot. It depends on what else they can do with it. I’m sure Tucker can thing of one player they can use that spot on.