Cody White’s come a long way. For the first week of this year’s training camp, White was about as involved in practice as you and me. Sidelined by a hamstring injury, White was always the first one on the field but limited to watching and catching a couple passes from coaches or on days where even he beat the coaches out there, throwing passes up to himself. But the team kept him around for a reason. And now White is making an impact with a role possibly increasing following JuJu Smith-Schuster’s season-ending injury.
Earned not given is how OC Matt Canada described White’s path to playtime.
“I think Cody’s come in and done a good job,” Canada told reporters via audio provided by the team. “You look at the talent we have on the edge and Cody’s come in here in two years and kind of earned his stripes, earned his trust. And you’ve got to give him a lot of credit for that. When you look at the guys he was behind. And now he’s got, as Coach always talks about, at some point somebody knocks on your door. I think he’s shown mentally he’s ready to go. And we’re excited to see what he can do.”
White’s time in Pittsburgh didn’t begin this season. He signed with the team’s practice squad in September of last season, a big-body receiver who thrived at Michigan State. White signed a futures contract after the 2020 season came to a close and was carried throughout the offseason. When he got healthy to practice this summer, he played well enough, coming on strong late to secure a practice spot, beating out the likes of Anthony Johnson. Here’s part of what we wrote about White in our post-camp recap.
“White was able to hang onto the Steelers’ roster for more than the first week of camp, sitting out due to a hamstring injury. He didn’t practice until well into August but made up for lost time, catching seven passes for 76 yards over the final couple of days. That doesn’t include plays like a nice toe-tapping grab along the sideline in 7v7.”
White was elevated to the 53 from the practice squad for two weeks thanks to repeated injuries to the Steelers’ wideouts. Out of elevations last week, White was signed to the 53-man roster for Sunday’s win over Denver. He’s remained on the 53 with Smith-Schuster done for the season. This year, he’s been targeted three times, catching a pair of passes against the Bengals in Week 3 though he suffered a drop against Denver. He’s versatile, able to play all three wide receiver spots, and his size makes him an effective blocker and in that regard, a possible replacement for Smith-Schuster.
Still, White’s spot and role going forward isn’t a given. The team signed veteran Anthony Miller to the practice squad this week, a more proven player in this league. Once he gets up to speed after the bye, the Steelers may bring him up to the 53 as well. White will have to work and continue to earn his keep, just as he’s done for the last two years.