2019 South Side Questions: Will Kerrith Whyte Be A Decent Kick Returner?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.

The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.

How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will Kerrith Whyte actually prove to be a solid kick returner?

What does the future hold for Kerrith Whyte? Who knows? Considering he’s already been waived once before as a late-round draft pick, he doesn’t have much assured him in the NFL. But he has a chance with the Steelers to at least make some sort of impression, and he has four more games in which to do it.

While he flashed initially on his first couple of carries in the run game, his best shot at making a difference is probably going to be as a kick returner. He had a couple of solid returns in Sunday’s game, and even earned the honor of being named to Pro Football Focus’ Team of the Week for the return man position.

The Steelers haven’t had even a solid kick returner other than JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2017 since Antonio Brown last fielded the position in 2012, and they didn’t have a lot of success before him either. They’ve even drafted players with a return role in mind, and it never quite panned out.

I’m not about to paint with a broad brush with Whyte, though. He had a couple of decent-looking returns. Teams with good kick return units see that, and better, every week. He does have some speed, though, and is more capable of breaking a tackle than Ryan Switzer was.

Even if he looks good as a kick returner over the next four games, though, that doesn’t guarantee him anything. The Steelers still have their top three running backs, and it’s very rare that they ever go into a season with more than that unless injuries dictate it.

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