Towards the end of practice yesterday, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed a 20-yard pass to Zach Gentry down the seam that Gentry caught over inside linebacker Myles Jack.
During his media session before training camp today, Trubisky was asked about the throw, and had high praise for the fourth-year tight end, via Steelers.com.
“I got a lot of confidence in Gentry to come down with those 50-50 ball opportunities. We like to think of him more as 70-30, and he’s gonna come down with it.”
Gentry’s 6’8″, which obviously gives him an advantage over most linebackers and defensive backs. Last year was the first year that he was really able to make an impact, as coming into the 2021 season he had just one career reception. Last year, he pulled down 19 balls and became a bigger part of the offense down the stretch.
If he’s healthy, Pat Freiermuth will be the TE1 on the depth chart. However, if Trubisky or whoever the starter is come Week 1 has faith in Gentry, Pittsburgh could run more two tight end sets on passing downs. Gentry definitely held his own when he was given an opportunity last season, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he had a bigger role in 2022.
“It’ll be important to be able to run the ball with two tight ends and be able to do play action, things of that nature. So, I think that’ll be something you see,” Gentry said via Steelers.com earlier today at his press session.
His size makes him a unique weapon, as there simply aren’t many pass catchers in the league who are that big. Gentry isn’t the fastest or most athletic player, but his size can help him become a safety blanket or give him an advantage in man-to-man coverage, as Trubisky said.
Gentry recently talked about how he can believe he can be an elite blocker. His role is currently more of an in-line blocker, and if he can build on that to become one of the best at his position that would be huge for Pittsburgh. Still, he has the capability to contribute in the receiving game, and if he can combine the two skills he could be a really nice piece.
Gentry’s role and development is going to be something to watch this year. He has a pedigree as a receiving tight end, as he had 32 receptions for 514 yards his senior year at Michigan. With his improvement in that part of his game last year, I’m willing to be he’ll take another step forward. He’s the most experienced tight end on the roster and it sounds as if he’s already building chemistry with some of the new quarterbacks. I think Gentry is going to be a sleeper and someone who could surprise this year as a really reliable TE2.