One of the most newsworthy players through the first three days of training camp so far has been first-year defensive back Kameron Kelly, arguably one of the very few players on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster who merit the ‘defensive back’ declaration rather than cornerback or safety.
Kelly, who was originally signed as a college free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 and later played for the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football, signed with the Steelers in early April after the upstart league folded. He has risen steadily since then.
When starter Sean Davis missed some time early in the spring, Kelly was among the players who were given the opportunity to run with the first-team defense in his place. When training camp opened late last week, he was running with the second-team defense at free safety behind Davis.
With the fourth-year veteran leaving practice earlier today with a finger injury, Kelly once again stepped into the starting lineup at free safety with the first-team unit. He has also been running with the third-team defense in the slot.
Given the attention that he has gotten so far in training camp, Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the young defensive back after practice today. “He’s shown good versatility”, he offered. “He’s played some safety, he’s played in some underneath sub-package positions. He appears to be a quick learner. He appears to have detail in multiple spots. That helps his cause and ours”.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 28, 2019
And you know how much Tomlin, and really all coaches, love a player who “appears to be a quick learner”, which is surely why Kelly has been able to get so many opportunities in spite of the fact that he was acquired relatively late in the offseason, almost a month into the new league year. One can’t help but wonder how much the experience of playing full-time in the Alliance gave him the opportunity to get a jumpstart on some of the other young players on the roster.
That said, his athleticism also makes him a better fit to play at free safety than just about any other safety on the roster behind Davis, so that naturally has helped him to get onto the field for a higher-quality level of reps.
He has also made some plays, including an interception during Saturday’s practice, which will keep him getting noticed. If Davis misses some time, depending upon the severity of his finger injury, then he will have even more opportunities to showcase himself and stake his claim for a spot on the 53-man roster. Certainly the AAF refugee with the best chance to do so.