Now that the regular season has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: CB James Pierre
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The second-year cornerback stepped up last week in Joe Haden’s absence, not just in coverage, but also in run support, continuing to grow, with another opportunity to start today.
It didn’t take long for James Pierre to become a fan favorite, but then, he had plenty of factors working in his favor. He was a college free agent, and thus an underdog. He is a tall cornerback, always a plus. And perhaps most importantly, he’s not Justin Layne, a former third-round pick that fans had already written off.
In fact, he garnered something of a cult following, really, before he had even done anything that fans could see. Because of the pandemic, nobody outside of the organization had ever seen him on the practice field, and he played very sparingly throughout the 2020 season.
Yet he had plenty of forward momentum heading into this year, including his own performances in practice. Since the season started, and since getting playing time, he has had his obvious ups and downs, particularly taking his lumps on some deep balls, but he put together a strong game last week.
Pierre ended up playing three quarters of the snaps after starter Joe Haden went down with an injury. He finished the game with seven tackles, of which two were defensive stops. He is credited with allowing just one catch in coverage, for four yards.
Of course, he was playing a Detroit Lions team with Jared Goff at quarterback. and not just Jared Goff, but Jared Goff with a busted hand. This week, he is going to have to contend with the young Justin Herbert, who has a much better supporting cast, better weather, a home stadium, and fully functioning limbs. This may be his toughest test yet.