Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Jaylen Samuels seems to fitting in well on offense as the team readies themselves for their first preseason game this coming week. With that said, what does Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger currently think about the team’s fifth-round draft pick out of North Carolina State, who was used not only has a ball carrier in college, but as a receiver out of multiple alignments as well?
“Excited about what he can do,” Roethlisberger told Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller of ‘Movin’ the Chains’ on SiriusXM NFL Radio over the weekend. “You’re right, his hands in the pass game are awesome. I like to challenge those guys in individual (drills). For NFL quarterbacks in individuals, with no defense, we can put the ball where we want it. That doesn’t help that guy, right? I want to learn about that guy. Sometimes put it behind them. I’m going to put it high, I’m going to put it low, put it in front of them, so I can see where he can stretch to, see where their catch radius is. And his pretty special right now.”
While Samuels did show that he could catch during his college career, one of the much-needed attributes he’ll need to show the Steelers moving forward in his NFL career is one he didn’t display very often at North Carolina State and that’s his ability to block, and more precisely, an ability to effectively pass protect. Roethlisberger spoke a little in reference to that needed ability Samuels needs to show over the weekend to Kirwan and Miller.
“But what we need to see from him is a little more toughness because he’s a big back,” Roethlisberger said. “I want to see that physicality come out in him.”
Roethisberger’s comments about Samuels needing to show more physicality moving forward came just prior to the Steelers Friday night practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. During that annual night practice, Samuels, according to several first-hand reports, represented himself well during the backs-on-backers drill that took place during that session and much better than he did the first time he participated in that drill when the team donned their pads for the first time at Latrobe.
In all likelihood, Samuels will get quite a bit of playing time in the team’s Thursday night preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and while Roethlisberger isn’t likely to play in that contest, you can probably count on him being one of many on the Steelers sideline paying close attention to the rookie running back during the plays his asked to pass protect on.