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: RB Kerrith Whyte
Stock Value: Up
For me, and I’m sure most fans, Kerrith Whyte a month ago was just another nameless, gray face in the world when the Steelers made the announcement that they had signed him off of the Chicago Bears’ practice squad. The move was made following apparent dissatisfaction with the work of another nameless, gray face in Tony Brooks-James, who was released to make room for him.
He hasn’t played a lot in the three games in which he has been here (about 25 snaps), but he almost always touches the ball when he does. He already has 14 carries on the season for 94 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per attempt, and with a good successful run rate as well. He also has a nine-yard reception on one target, which was good for a first down.
Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals was his best game yet, getting five carries for 41 yards, already his second game of 40 or more yards since coming here, adding the nine-yard reception to boot to make it 50 yards from scrimmage on six touches.
It does have to be noted that he was thoroughly ineffective on two kickoff returns this week, averaging 12 yards per return and being tackled well short of the 25, once even inside the 15. The week before, he took a kick beyond the 40-yard line, which was the first of the year for the Steelers—maybe even the first of the past two years.
Working in tandem with what is currently a four-headed beast in the running back room, Whyte has been making meaningful and valuable contributions to the cause, and if he continues to do that over the next three games, there should be no doubt that he’ll have another chance to earn a spot on the roster next season.
The rookie already has four touches of 10-plus yards on 16 total touches, meaning that he has been averaging a gain of 10 or more every fourth opportunity. That is a level of explosiveness that this offense can certainly need, and as the weeks wear on, they will probably find other ways to get him involved, and in space.