Pittsburgh Steelers backup tight end Zach Gentry recently sat down with the Albuquerque Journal to talk about his career and his progression up to this point in the NFL.
“It’s constant development, and finding that balance of being able to do run blocking, pass blocking and receiving stuff, with my God-given size to be able to toe the line between those two different things,” Gentry said. He also mentioned that he feels he’s improved a lot as a run blocker. On his blocking, he said he thinks he can be one of the best players in the NFL at both run and pass blocking.
If Gentry develops into an elite blocking tight end, that would be massive for the Steelers. Right now, they have good pass-catchers at the position in both Pat Freiermuth and Connor Heyward, and if Gentry specializes as a blocker that would help out the Steelers immensely. For Gentry, it would also give him a more defined role and help him stick around.
Gentry also talked about catching Ben Roethlisberger’s final pass in the team’s Wild Card round loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s a pretty cool thing to be able to look back on. The thing that made it real for me, he and I, for the majority of the away games, had lockers next to one another,” Gentry said. “After the game, I went over to Ben’s locker, told him I was sorry I couldn’t get that one in the zone for your last,” he continued. I think that was the first time it really hit him that it was his last pass.”
Gentry had 19 receptions last year, stepping up in a larger role as the second tight end. He and Roethlisberger clearly had built a connection through the last few weeks, as most of his receptions came towards the end of the year. Ten of his receptions came in Weeks 15-18, with another four coming in the playoff loss to the Chiefs. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of role Gentry has this year, given that Roethlisberger is gone and Heyward is joining the tight end room.
Regardless, his experience should help make him a leader in the tight end room. If he can develop as a blocker the way he believes, he could be a major asset for Pittsburgh as it looks to improve upon its offensive line and run game. Having Gentry as another option as a solid blocker could help not only Najee Harris, but also whoever is starting at quarterback if they choose to keep him in as a pass blocker. I think Gentry will undoubtedly have a role, and his performance last season definitely gives reason to believe he could be a contributor in some capacity for the next few years, barring injury.