I don’t know about you, but Stefan Logan holds a bit of a special place in my Pittsburgh Steelers memories. He was the last dedicated return man that the team has had that actually finished out a season, unless you want to include Chris Rainey in 2012, who had 40 offensive touches that year.
The team has tried and failed to find that dedicated returner more than once. There was Dri Archer in 2014, who was released in 2015 in order to make room for the veteran Jacoby Jones, who failed rather spectacularly.
None matched Logan, whom Mike Tomlin, the Steelers’ head coach, still invokes when speaking to the young players he likes to take a look at about their opportunity to make the team in that capacity.
“I talk to a lot of those young guys about a guy named Stefan Logan, who I committed a half of play to in D.C. in a preseason game, and he returned every kick beyond the 50-yard line and ran his way onto our football team”, he said. “The next week he ran another opportunity, the first punt back, of the game”.
Logan was an undrafted free agent out of South Dakota in 2007. After failing to make it with the Miami Dolphins, he moved up north to play in the CFL for a season, then got an opportunity with the Steelers in 2009.
The game that Tomlin is referring to was the second preseason game of the year. He returned four kickoffs, averaging 39 yards, with a long of 60. He also averaged 12 yards on four punt returns with a long of 18. The following week, he averaged 15 yards on four punt returns with a long of 27, and finally broke off a punt return for an 80-yard touchdown in the finale.
Does that sound even remotely like anybody that the Steelers have in training camp right now? Quadree Henderson? Not exactly. “There’s limited opportunity. There’s scarcity. So there’s urgency there”, Tomlin said. “But it’s been done before by many, many people over time, in this city, on this team and others”.
The players he is giving opportunities to make returns must show that urgency that they are not. Logan may have only had one season with the team, but he set the franchise record for the most return yards, averaging 26.7 yards on 55 kick returns for a total of 1466 yards and another 280 yards on 30 punt returns for a 9.3-yard average.
He went on to play three more seasons with the Detroit Lions and remained a successful return man, highlighted by a 105-yard touchdown return on a kickoff in 2010. He returned to the CFL and, at the age of 37, is still playing for the Montreal Alouettes.