While the Pittsburgh Steelers would seem to have their top two tight ends up and running now, Jesse James and then Vance McDonald having posted 100-yard games in back-to-back weeks, that doesn’t mean that they have forgotten about their third tight end, Xavier Grimble.
He logged about a dozen and a half or so snaps against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though never as a lone tight end. The Steelers played 22 snaps in multiple-tight end sets that game, and Grimble was on the field for 15 of them, paired mostly with Chukwuma Okorafor, but also with Jesse James.
The 22 package with the tackle-eligible is something they’ve been running for years, and Grimble was in it last year while McDonald was injured. But it was a bit surprising to see him continue to be the featured tight end here after McDoanld returned. They used the package late in the first when they were backed up in their own end.
They ran with Grimble and James as the two tight ends a few plays later, Grimble almost always as the outside blocker of the two. On this particular play, he happened to slip on a defender’s foot to lose his own footing, though it was on the back side of the play.
The next play, they flipped the tight ends to the left side of the formation. Working against the outside linebacker, he did a good job of turning him, but ultimately allowed the defender to chase the runner from the back side.
Following gains of six yards and then three, the Steelers faced a third and one. This time they brought back Roosevelt Nix in a 22 look and Okorafor returned as the tackle-eligible. James Conner got the ball and ran off left end for four yards. Though it didn’t directly affect the play, Grimble here does a nice job on the back side. Of course, it was negated by a hold.
It was a couple of plays later that Grimble was targeted in the passing game. Showing the 22 package with Okorafor, the defense showed nine in the box. The tight end came off the right end to run a post route that kept going and going. This is the play that Ben Roethlisberger ultimately threw into the wall.
It wasn’t exactly a high-impact performance from Grimble, but just the fact that he logged so much time was surprising to me. Is it a product of the Steelers still slowing bringing McDonald along, or will he really see more playing time?