Mike Tomlin put it in very clear terms for second-year tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson. Learn to block and there’s a spot on the roster.
Speaking to ESPN UK’s Nat Coombs recently, Scotland-Williamson discussed his relationship with Tomlin.
“Coach told me and put the challenge to me. Block a 4-3 defensive end and then I’ll have a job.”
A classic Tomlin anecdote. Clear, direct, and a little brutally honest. But size was what made Scotland-Williamson attractive to the Steelers. Listed at 6’9, 274, he has the ability to take on 4-3 ends of a similar statue. Of course, having the frame and knowing what to do with it are two totally different things. CSW said he’s made huge strides in his technique.
“Last year, every single thing I did on the field was a conscious decision. Where my foot was, where my hand placement would be, what the snap count was. Learning cadence, learning playcalls. When I got to rookie mincamp, I had never been in a practice before. Never heard a live playcall in a huddle.”
Now? That’s all second-nature to the man Kevin Colbert calls “Scotty.” Now, he gets to play like he belongs in the NFL.
The good news is tight end is one of the Steelers’ weakest positions. Vance McDonald is a lock and Xavier Grimble very likely to make the team but everything behind them is up for grabs. Pittsburgh drafted Zach Gentry in the 5th round but he’s a raw rookie who didn’t begin playing tight end until he arrived at Michigan three short years ago. If Scotland-Williamson can impress, there’s at least a theoretical chance for him to fight for a role. Failing that, he’ll have an exempt spot on the practice squad as he did last year, giving him another year to develop.
Yesterday was his first chance to make an impact as a receiver. He was wide open on the final play of 7 shots but Josh Dobbs overthrew him terribly. CSW barely registered on the radar all of last camp, catching just three passes across 15 practices, so he’ll have to be able to find himself open a lot more this time around.