The Pittsburgh Steelers have run for most of the summer with first-year player Kameron Kelly running with the first-team defense while Sean Davis was recovering from an open wound on his finger suffered early in training camp. It’s been a golden opportunity for him, but it’s not always easy to make an impact at the free safety position, or to evaluate it via preseason tape.
But we’ll try, and I’ll take a look at five plays from the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first quarter to get something of a feel for him.
The first play was an early deep shot from Jameis Winston to Breshad Perriman. Without the benefit of all-22 tape, it’s difficult to say much about his positioning at the end of this play—he appears to initially break toward the in-cutting route—but what is clear is that he is nowhere near the play as Justin Layne slowly loses ground at the last second.
Later in the drive, with the Buccaneers approaching the goal line, Kelly did come up in the run and make a quality tackle. Dropped almost 15 yards off the ball on the snap, he made his way upfield pretty quickly to make the tackle along the right side following a six-yard pickup.
The following play was the nine-yard touchdown on a screen pass. Here, Kelly is picked up by the right tackle, leaving Layne with the one-on-one opportunity on the outside of the numbers, a battle he loses to disastrous effect.
Again, without the benefit of tape showing the full field and the way the plays develop, it’s hard to say too much about something you can only see the beginning and end of. The middle of the play tends to be pretty important. But Kelly seems to be in good position on this late first-quarter throw by Blaine Gabbert, who released the ball as he was being hit by Olasunkanmi Adeniyi.
One last play we’ll examine is the next, with Gabbert finding his tight end for 21 over the middle in a soft zone on second and 15. He slipped the pass between the dropping linebackers, Devin Bush and Mark Barron. Kelly was at least able to come up and finish the play, making a low tackle on the big target.
The fact that he has been getting so much work with the first-team defense in Davis’ absence, and returning to the second-team since he returned, should be an indication that he is still in good position to make the roster. But there’s still no guarantee of that. whether they keep four and he’s not one of them, or they acquire another safety, he’s still very much fighting for a job.