Following practice, Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the number of players being asked to try out at multiple positions, with among the most notable being rookie outside linebacker Sutton Smith moonlighting at fullback, a position he had never played before.
Tomlin described it as “young guys with versatility”, and that “young guys that are capable of doing multiple jobs is an asset”. Truth be told, it’s somewhat unlikely that Smith’s ability to come off the edge and take on a linebacker in the hole are both going to be used, but it never hurts to know how to do it.
For his part, the sixth-round pick told Will Graves of the Associated Press, “I’m not going to really have anybody tell me that I can’t do something. That’s just not who I am and that’s not my mentality in this sport. I want to show I can do anything”.
‘Anything’ will almost surely have to include a certain level of adeptness at running down kicks and setting up blocks for returns for special teams coordinator Danny Smith’s units. The Destroyer of Bubblegum is seeking a few good men after he lost some this offseason in Darrius Heyward-Bey and L.J. Fort, with Terrell Edmunds figuring to take a back seat on special teams in his second year as well.
Truth be told, Smith (the player) has not had the most seamless of transitions from undersized MAC edge defender to 3-4 outside linebacker. He has had a difficult time trying to learn ways to mitigate the obvious size disadvantage his slight frame presents, but there is time to figure that out.
“It’s a slow work in progress right now”, he admitted regarding his process of adjusting to competing against NFL-level talent and bodies. “Just trying to figure out the kinks and do what’s best for me and the organization right now”.
Another hard truth of training camp so far is that he is losing ground at his native position to the rest of the group, particularly with second-year Olasunkanmi Adeniyi emerging. Rookie Tuzar Skipper and J.T. Jones have also made the most of a good portion of their opportunities.
But with Smith likely vying for a number five spot at the outside linebacker position, it is understood that special teams work will be a primary factor in making the determination of who will stick. That also, however, opens the gates for other positions to eat away at that number, with fellow rookie sixth-rounder, inside linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III, another threat.
That is all the more reason for him to show that he can do as many things as possible, to be frank. After he was initially drafted, working at inside linebacker was even talked about, though for the moment that doesn’t appear to be in the cards. But I’m not going to tell him that he can’t do it. After all, he said he won’t have that.