The Pittsburgh Steelers have made a concerted effort to upgrade their wide receiver room the last two days. With Georgia wide receiver George Pickens on Friday and now Memphis receiver Calvin Austin III, the Steelers have essentially transformed the position into what could be something very fun to watch. While the former Tiger brings blazing 4.3 speed to the table, another potentially underrated attribute he possesses is his fearlessness.
New Steelers’ wide receiver coach Frisman Jackson noted that in his press conference right after the pick was made.
“I think they were playing Temple and I see him run across the middle, catch an in-route across the middle and he’s gonna get the crap hit out of him. He holds on and makes the catch,” said Jackson about an example of when his fearlessness showed up on film. “I know Temple. I worked at Temple, so I know the type of guys at Temple, some tough dudes, and so he was able to make, maintain the catch and make the play for his team. And I can see a guy that goes across the middle. That’s not afraid of, ‘Hey, I might have to take this hit.'”
Jackson, who served as the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator at Temple before having the same job with the Carolina Panthers last season, will try to get the most out of Austin, who is a bit undersized standing at roughly 5-foot-7. But for a guy with a smaller frame, he has plenty of toughness to match that fearlessness in the middle of the field. The Steelers have a history of selecting wide receivers that can take hits and bounce right back up. Hines Ward and JuJu Smith-Schuster are two examples that come to mind when thinking about the type of guys the Steelers have picked under Kevin Colbert that fit that mold. And while Austin might not be as physical at the catch point as those guys, he definitely does not mind running into traffic and taking his share of licks.
“That shows some toughness,” said Jackson about Austin saying he likes to get right back up after a tough hit. “He’s not laying down there. He gets up, whether he’s hurt or not, he gets up and he’s gonna celebrate a little bit and have a little fun with it. And so I enjoy seeing guys do that.”
Austin might be just the guy the Steelers need to replace Smith-Schuster in the slot. And it certainly sounds like what he lacks in size can be made up for in other ways.