It’s rare that any team at this time of year is able to make a roster addition that actually ends up making much of an impact on their season. For one thing, the trade deadline has long since past, so one cannot acquire players that way. For another, most any other player with much talent—at least proven talent—is already employed.
The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be relatively pleased with two recent additions that they were able to make from the practice squads of other teams, however, those being second-year wide receiver Deon Cain, plucked from the Indianapolis Colts, and running back/kick returner Kerrith Whyte, a rookie who was with the Chicago Bears.
Signed shortly after the Cleveland Browns game three weeks ago due to injuries at their respective positions, both of them made an early impact. Whyte recorded a 21-yard carry on his first touch, Cain hauling in a 35-yard pass. Whyte had over 40 total yards on six carries, while Cain also had a 26-yard defensive pass interference call go in his favor.
Their contributions were somewhat more modest this past week, but still valuable. Whyte actually brought a kick return out past the 40-yard line in what has seemed like a minor miracle, and Cain recorded a key third-down conversion, as well as drawing another pass interference penalty.
“We’re starting to adapt now”, Cain said of himself and Whyte, via Mike Prisuta for the team’s website. “We’re starting to feel a little more comfortable. And now that we’re actually going out and making plays together it’s kinda making us as one now”.
While neither player has logged a tremendous amount of snaps, the fact that they have been able to be immediate contributors is significant. Whyte had only been on the 53-man roster for three games prior to being moved to the practice squad, and never dressed. Cain, who was on the Reserve/Injured List as a rookie, was on the roster for most of the season, but played sparsely, with just four receptions.
Both of them came in and embraced the work that was required to make the most of this new opportunity, and they have been seeing the results. It appears as though their place on the team at least for the remainder of the season is preserved, perhaps with the potential to audition for a larger role in 2020.
“The culture, the closeness that’s here, how everyone’s tightly knit together, it’s great to see”, Whyte added, saying that “great teams are a brotherhood”, and “it’s good to be a part of it”.
With each passing week, they increase their odds of being able to have a larger role in the offense, though that comes with the caveat that those opportunities will be reduced upon the return of injured starters. For now, though, they have another chance on Sunday to make an impact.