I don’t know about you, but I am still finding it a nice change of pace to be able to talk about some actual football in the middle of January. For that reason alone, I would be rooting for the Alliance of American Football to succeed, but there are many additional reasons as well.
The new league played its first games over the course of the weekend, four games over the course of two days spanning all eight of their flagship franchises. You might not be surprised to learn that Pro Football Focus was quick to jump onboard the evaluation process, and they have already released their AFF Team of the Week for the first week of their 10-game schedule.
And it’s worth noting that two former members of the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to work their way into those lists—perhaps players that in the very near future will merit a second look from a number of NFL teams, earning a contract somewhere, whether that is before or after the AAF season ends.
We have already talked about former Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin and his big game. He was an undrafted free agent in 2013 and spent the next three years in Pittsburgh, followed by one season each in Washington and Seattle. He kicked around in 2018 but failed to find a long-term team for the year, and so is looking to put his name back out there with AAF tape.
It’s working so far. He was the highest-graded linebacker of the week, and one of the highest-graded players overall. Cam Mellor wrote of him, “not much more can be said about a two-interception performance, especially when you capitalize on one of those picks with a touchdown return in the process. Garvin 90.1 coverage grade was by far the best among linebackers as it ranked third among all defensive players from Week 1”.
The other former Steeler to attract attention this past week didn’t have nearly the longevity of Garvin. Cornerback Jamar Summers was signed as an undrafted free agent last year as an undrafted free agent, but he did not make the 53-man roster, nor was he retained on the practice squad.
But he had a big game for the Birmingham Iron. “Summers was dominant in pass coverage, allowing one lone reception on three targets, but limiting that reception to negative yardage”, Mellor wrote. “His interception was a highlight and quarterbacks saw just a 2.8 passer rating when throwing his way”.
Unfortunately, other notable former Steelers players such as Zach Mettenberger and Demarcus Ayers were inactive for their teams’ first games. Hopefully we will see more action from them in future weeks, but fellow cornerback Greg Ducre also had a solid if uneven game.