While much of the focus of the day is rightly going to tight end Pat Freiermuth today, who made the play of the season thus far with a complicated and difficult touchdown grab in the fourth quarter for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday’s win for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Cleveland Browns was a significant one as well for third-year Zach Gentry.
With Eric Ebron sidelined for the game with a knee injury, the Steelers went with just Freiermuth and Gentry as their two tight ends. They ended up combining for seven receptions on the day for 83 yards, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at, considering that Ebron is their Pro Bowler in the group.
Gentry in particular had a significant day. He caught three passes for 39 yards, having come into the game with just four career receptions for 25 yards. One of those catches was a 20-yard grab over the middle.
“I think that’s the most open I’ve been on a catch in a long time, so I really wasn’t expecting to be that open”, he told Missi Matthews during a brief media availability period in the locker room after the game was over. “But I’m glad I was”.
Originally drafted in the fifth round in 2019 out of Michigan, Gentry was a project, having originally been a quarterback. He spent most of his first two seasons ‘redshirting’, serving as a healthy scratch for most games, but he has been a regular contributor in season three after winning his roster spot in training camp and the preseason.
Coming into the day, Gentry had already played 97 snaps through the first six weeks, having had only 69 snaps played in his first two years combined. He obviously played extensively in yesterday’s game as well, as one of two tight ends, with Ebron unavailable.
“I think we did okay”, he said of the tight end group. “Obviously, we missed E[bron] out there, missed having him out there. He brings another element to our offense and to our tight end group. But I think we fared pretty well. Obviously Pat had a great game, made an amazing catch in the end zone. So we’ll work off of that”.
Gentry has actually been the Steelers’ primary blocking tight end so far this season. That’s no surprise over Ebron, of course, though Freiermuth considers himself a blocker. While he is formerly a quarterback, though, Gentry is a big man at 6’8”, and probably by now heavier than the 265 pounds he’s listed at on the roster.