New Steelers Cain, Whyte Have Explosive Debuts Against Bengals

The Pittsburgh Steelers received timely contributions from several players in their Sunday road win over the Cincinnati Bengals and two of those contributors have been with the team for just over a week.

Last Saturday the Steelers signed wide receiver Deon Cain and running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. off the practice squads if the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears, respectively, and in Sunday’s game against the Bengals they combined to contribute 78 yards of offense. After the game, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made sure to praise the first-game efforts of Cain and Whyte early on in his press conference.

“Can’t say enough about Deon Cain and Kerrith Whyte,” Tomlin said. “They didn’t make a lot of plays today, but, boy, they put their hand in the pile and, you know, we don’t underestimate that, the difficulty of getting on a moving train and being positive contributors to our efforts.”

Whyte, who was originally selected by the Bears this year in the seventh-round out of Florida Atlantic, made an early contribution in Sunday’s game and on his first NFL touch at that. With 6:06 left in the first quarter and on a first and 10 pay from the Steelers 37-yard-line, the Steelers ran a counter to the left with guard David DeCastro pulling that way and Whyte ran behind him and cut up field off left tackle for a gain of 21 yards.

Whyte would go on to have three more carries in that series and those netted another 21 yards. His other two carries in the game netted just one yard and he ended his first career NFL contest with 43 yards on six total carries. He also returned one kickoff in his Sunday NFL debut for 15 yards.

As for Cain, who was originally selected by the Colts in the sixth-round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Clemson, his first and only touch on Sunday against the Bengals was also an explosive play.

With 7:28 left in the first half and on a second and 21 play from the Steelers 41-yard-line, quarterback Mason Rudolph threw deep to Cain down the right sideline with Bengals cornerback B.W. Webb in coverage. That throw was thrown inside and thus become a 50/50 ball and Cain got inside Webb to make a nice leaping catch for a gain of 35 yards. That big play obviously moved the chains and the Steelers offense at least came out of that drive with a field goal.

While that was Cain’s only catch of Sunday’s game, he did make another contribution in the fourth quarter when he drew a pass interference on Webb on a first and 10 deep pass down the right sideline from quarterback Devlin Hodges. That penalty netted 26 yards and the Steelers offense culminated that drive with another field goal to take a 13-10 lead.

We’ll have to see what amount of snaps that both Whyte and Cain played on Sunday and odds both played less than 20 snaps each. However, with the way both players positively contributed in their first games with the Steelers, we could see Whyte and Cain play a little more in games than they did Sunday starting next weekend against the Cleveland Browns.

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