The Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday training camp practice at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe will feature the team putting on the pads for the first time this year. This means that we’ll finally get to see and hear about just how physical some of the new players on the roster really are. One of those players I’m most interested to hear about is rookie running back Jaylen Samuels, the team’s second of two fifth-round draft picks this year.
“Yeah, definitely,” Samuels said Friday when asked by a member of the media if he feels his physicality is underrated. “I mean, I feel like it is, but you know, we have a lot more days in camp for me to show, so, I’m looking forward to it.”
Samuels, who put together a very impressive college career at North Carolina State as both a ball carrier and pass catcher, wasn’t asked to pass protect or block very much at all the last four seasons. Because of that, it will certainly be interesting to see and hear about how he performs in the annual backs-on-backers drill in training camp in addition to how he blocks and pass protects during the team’s preseason games.
Samuels enters the NFL with the moniker, “Swiss Army Knife,” because of the way he was used on offense at North Carolina State. That usage, as many of you should already know by now, included him lining up at running back, h-back, wide receiver, tight end and even quarterback. He ran and caught passes from various different alignments on the fields. On Friday, Samuels was asked to describe what kind of player he is currently.
“I mean, I’m a little bit of everything, I guess,” Samuels said. “I don’t really got one specific position on me, but you know, I’m listed as a running back, but I’m also being able to split out and catch the ball as well, play a little bit of receiver in certain packages. So, I guess you can say an athlete.”
He is indeed an athlete and while probable not considered an elite one based on his combine measurables, the fact that he was used in so many different ways at North Carolina State is a testament to his overall athleticism and probably football IQ as well.
With starring running back Le’Veon Bell expected to miss all of training camp and the preseason once again, younger running backs on the Steelers roster such as Samuels know his absence will likely work in their collective favor in the form of more reps.
“Definitely an opportunity [there’s] more reps for me being able to display my skills, earn some respect from the players and from the coaches,” Samuels said of Bell’s absence. “So, I’m excited for the opportunity that’s ahead of me. I just have to take it day-by-day.”
While he’s officially listed as a running back with the Steelers, Samuels confirmed on Friday what he also had confirmed during the team’s offseason practices and that’s that he’s being moved around in the offense and being utilized some in ways similar to the way he was in college.
“I’m with the running backs right now but certain packages that we have they’ve got me playing the F [position] which is like coming in slot sometimes where I can run different routes against linebackers are into the flat or whatnot,” Samuels said. “It all depends on whatever person there is or whatever package we’ve got going in.”