When it comes to the New York Giants’ offense, the vast majority of the focus is on Saquon Barkley, and not just in Pittsburgh because he came out of Penn State, but because he really is the centerpiece of their offense as one of the very top running backs in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense will have their hands full trying to contain him as their first challenge against an opponent, rather than tackling their teammates.
But they can’t afford to sleep on the rest of what their offense has to offer, as they have some good young players among their skill position groups, and that certainly includes former first-round pick Evan Engram at tight end.
Entering his fourth season in the NFL, Engram has missed a lot of time in his career to date due to injury. He played in 15 games as a rookie in 2017, then just 11 a year later, and finally missed half of the 2019 season. But he has been dangerous when he is on the field, as Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick knows.
“I classify him as a big receiver”, he told reporters on Thursday. “He’s gonna block you and do all the tight end things, but when he’s running a 4.4 40—he’s a fast guy, and he’s also physical. So that’s gonna be a challenge. It’s gonna be a matchup that we definitely have to pay attention to”.
Despite missing most of the year and playing just 444 snaps, Engram still managed to catch 44 passes for 467 yards and three touchdowns in 2019. As a rookie, he caught 64 passes for 722 yards and six touchdowns. For his career, he has 153 receptions for 1766 yards and 12 touchdowns in 34 games played. Prorated over 16-game seasons, his numbers average out to 72-831-6.
And Fitzpatrick may be key in stopping him in terms of coverage assignments. Considering the fact that we have basically seen nothing about the defense so far this year, and adding in the signing of Sean Davis since the 53-man roster was made, so don’t actually know a lot of details about what we plan to do.
But we do know that Fitzpatrick is the sort of athletic free safety who can roll down into coverage, and the Steelers want to try to put him in more positions to make plays this season now that he has had a full year to get acquainted with the system.
Engram is a young(ish) player who still has a lot of untapped potential that primarily just requires more of an opportunity to be on the field and to play. Having a second year with Daniel Jones at quarterback will help as well. The Steelers need to be wary about what this athletic tight end can do.