The Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver room is about as deep as it has been in recent memory. After the presumed top three in Chase Claypool, George Pickens, and Diontae Johnson, there are many capable receivers in competition for the remaining spots. Among said receivers is Steven Sims, who Head Coach Mike Tomlin commented on after Wednesday’s training camp practice.
“He’s working extremely hard,” Tomlin said when asked about Sims after the team’s Wednesday practice. “He’s working to define the role. I don’t know that I can describe it from a role perspective. He’s a guy that is fighting for a place or a seat on the bus.”
Sims began his career with Washington, where he caught a touchdown in the 2020 Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during his two-year stint. Sims was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad in 2021, appearing in one regular season game. The third-year veteran seemingly faded into the background, given the competition for the final roster spots. However, his impressive preseason debut against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, which featured a 38-yard jet sweep and 38-yard punt return, brought his name back into the conversation.
Perhaps Sims’ best argument for making the roster is that outside of Olszewski, he is the only current Steeler with experience returning both kicks and punts, hence the “role” Tomlin stated. Notably, Sims did not have much impact as a receiver, making one catch for two yards in two targets.
With the depth the team has at the receiver position, it is likely that six receivers will make the 53-man roster, rather than the usual five. Outside of the aforementioned top three, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Gunner Olszewski, Tyler Snead, Cody White, Tyler Vaughns, and Sims are competing for the presumed remaining three spots (Anthony Miller was recently injured). Simply put, this is a tall mountain for Sims to climb, and it’s hard to imagine him doing so.
Both Austin III and Olszewski appear to be near-locks to make the roster for the fourth and fifth spot. That is, Austin III is a fourth-round rookie with impressive speed, and Olszewski is a free agent-signee with ample punt and kick return experience and had an impressive preseason showing as a receiver. This leaves White, Snead, Vaughns, and Boykin as Sims’ remaining competition. Assuming Sims can beat White, Snead, and Vaughns due to their relative inexperience, which is on its own a bold assumption, Boykin arguably brings more to the roster and has more experience.
Barring injury, it appears that Sims is likely a practice-squad candidate, as the seat on the bus Tomlin mentioned is likely preoccupied. Given what he showed in the preseason debut, he may be wind up on a 53-man roster that is not in Pittsburgh.