In open media session during OTAs on Tuesday, rookie WR Calvin Austin III was asked during a segment on 93.7 The Fan on who he is spending the most time with at this time during OTAs and who he may specifically learning from as he prepares to enter his first season in the NFL.
“Besides the people in my rookie class, you know, there’s a lot of people,” Austin responded. “Gunner [Olszewski], he’s a guy that I’ve definitely gotten close with and just watch what he does. Tyler Vaughns; there’s another guy who I gotten close with.”
With Diontae Johnson arriving today for OTAs after not reporting for last week’s sessions, it makes sense that Austin mentions him right away as one of the top guys he has been speaking with. Still, the names of Olszewski and Vaughns being the receivers that roll off the tongue first can be seen as sort of a surprise, especially after the comments made by WR Chase Claypool about being more of a leader for the 2022 season.
This shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a slight to Claypool who likely more relates to fellow rookie WR George Pickens who profiles more as a big, physical outside receiver that does his best work down the field and in combative catch situations. When you come to think of it, it makes sense for Gunner and Austin to be developing a strong rapport with each other as they both profile as smaller slot receivers that can make contributions in the return game. Since they are taking reps at the same position, it’s only right for Austin to be picking Gunner’s mind, granted he’s a faster, more dynamic version of the return specialist that was signed to a two-year deal this offseason.
As for Vaughns, he initially signed to the Steelers’ practice squad back in September, bouncing on-and-off until he was released on January 14. Vaughns would return to Pittsburgh on a reserve/futures deal four days later, thus inviting him back to training camp this season. Being undrafted out of USC last season, Vaughns initially signed with the Colts as a UDFA, but was released prior to the start of the regular season. His chances of making the roster likely are bleak, but a strong training camp and preseason could place him back on the practice squad in 2022.
While Austin mentions those two WRs by name, he makes sure to reference the locker room, stating he is open to tips from anyone.
“You can look everywhere around you and there’s guys who’ve had success at this level,” Austin continues. “even Najee [Harris], you know, just talking about agility and what you see on this play and that play and what he sees from me.”
Given Najee Harris’s dedication to film study as referenced multiple times here on the site as well as his impressive work ethic and professional demeanor, it’s a good sign that Austin is seeking out the second year back for advice. Not only should Harris be able to help Austin with various aspects of his game, but it also gives Najee a chance to take a step forward as a vocal leader which he said previously was a big goal of his this season with the loss of Ben Roethlisberger to retirement.
Whether it’s Najee Harris, Gunner Olszewski, or even Cam Heyward, Calvin Austin is doing the right thing by taking on the role of a student, being open to instruction from anyone willing to share.
“I’m open for everything. Whoever can come and talk to me and give me tips and stuff, I’m all ears.”