Steelers News

Daniel McCullers Rewarded With 1st-Team Reps Following Strong Camp

All summer long, we have been getting our reports from Alex Kozora directly from training camp, who is our eyes and ears on the ground for the Pittsburgh Steelers at this time of the year. He has been doing this for a long time and has seen just about every snap that Daniel McCullers has ever taken in Latrobe. And the impression is clear that this is the best he’s looked in five years.

Maybe the fans in the stands are not the only ones seeing it. Around this time last year, the big man was taking third-team snaps behind L.T. Walton. Earlier today, perhaps in response to what they saw from him in-game on Thursday against the Eagles, the Steelers actually gave the veteran some snaps at nose tackle with the first-team group.

Ahead of Javon Hargrave.

No, that doesn’t mean that the team is considering moving McCullers into the starting lineup. But it does seem to indicate that they like what they’ve been seeing from him in recent weeks and believe it deserves to be rewarded with an opportunity to showcase what he can do with the next group ahead of him.

Is it possible that the fire has finally been lit under him? Has the real threat of losing his job, or perhaps the change of position coach, finally spurred him on to working toward becoming the football player that his size should theoretically allow him to be?

We have been waiting for the proverbial light to come on for the big man for going on five years now, and it never happened. It seemed that he was at the end of the road when he barely dressed last season, let alone played. His eventual re-signing definitely felt like an afterthought.

But McCullers is scratching and clawing to stick around, battling against Lavon Hooks and rookies Joshua Frazier (a seventh-round pick) and Greg Gilmore, among others, for the sixth defensive line spot. He knows he has no more free passes left. He has to earn everything he gets with what he does on the field, which is something that he talked about back in the spring.

I want to be a part of this team”, he said back then. “I feel I can contribute a lot. I like the system, I like the plays, I feel like I can make a big impact”. He talked about it being a big training camp, coming in at the best shape of his career, and working on what he knows that he has to work on: aggression, endurance, and leverage.

I need to go over his preseason performance in greater detail and will probably make it the subject of a film session in the coming days, but he did seem to show better than he has through most of his career. The Steelers saw that too, which is why he’s getting these first-team looks today.

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