Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: FB Roosevelt Nix
Stock Value: Down
As much as it pains me to write this, Roosevelt Nix’s first game back from injury since the season opener was not a good one. The majority of snaps that he took on offense, on which he was asked to block for the run, were negative plays for the offense, and his blocking was a primary catalyst for the failure of those plays.
That is in no way to say that it is indicative of what we should expect from him moving forward. I suspect quite the contrary, in fact. Considering the reality that he hasn’t played since the opener—and I don’t believe he even saw any playing time on offense—it’s quite understandable that he might not look to be entirely himself in what is essentially his first action in the fullback role in a meaningful situation since last year.
Yet it must be noted that he had several poor blocks throughout the game that got James Conner tackled because he either missed the read or the block itself. One of Conner’s most successful runs of the night came when he actually ran away from Nix’s lead block, cutting back to the right side for a nice chunk of something like 17 yards.
Still, there were some nice runs that came with Nix in the game, and that is a reminder of the sort of damage the run game can do when it is at its peak. Given the amount of playing time that he received against the Miami Dolphins, it is likely that they are eager to get him involved in the run game.
It would not be surprising at all to see a smattering of 23 personnel getting used, or at least 22, with a mixture of Nick Vannett and Zach Banner, accompanied by Nix. According to Mason Rudolph, head coach Mike Tomlin consciously discussed a desire to orchestrate more explosive runs, 10-plus yard runs, going forward. They had five in their last game, which is a fairly healthy number, and they had two runs of 20-plus yards called back by penalty.