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2022 Stock Watch – WR Calvin Austin III – Stock Down

Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.

Player: WR Calvin Austin III

Stock Value: Down

Reasoning: The rookie wide receiver’s season officially came to an end earlier this week when the team failed to activate him to the 53-man roster by the end of his 21-day window. Having suffered a foot injury in the practice before the team’s first preseason game, he had apparently been healthy enough to begin practicing, but seemingly suffered a setback or reaggravation of some kind last week, putting surgery in his future with the hopes of getting things going in 2023.

Man, this is definitely one I didn’t want to be writing this year. While details remain murky and we may not get real clarity any time soon, the only thing we know for sure at this point is that rookie fourth-round wide receiver Calvin Austin III is not going to play in 2022.

The Memphis product suffered some type of foot injury, it was reported, during a closed practice session the day before the Steelers’ first preseason game months ago. Head coach Mike Tomlin plays coy with injuries when he doesn’t have to, so he never said much about Austin’s initial injury. We only learned it was more serious when he was placed on the Reserve/Injured List to start the season.

But the fact that he began practicing as soon as he was eligible—after four weeks—was a good sign. He gave multiple interviews with reporters in his first week or two back practicing, but we haven’t heard from him since.

As best as we can ascertain, we can only assume that he suffered a setback or reaggravation of his foot injury at some point in practice last week. We don’t know anything more than that beyond the report by Gerry Dulac indicating that he is heading for surgery.

Naturally, for a small wide receiver drafted for his speed, a foot injury is going to raise major concerns about his long-term durability as well as the preservation of the attributes that made him desirable in the first place.

I for one don’t spend a lot of my time dwelling on the negative unknowns, at least when it comes to football. I don’t move forward assuming injuries. My mind will cross back to Austin come May next year when the Steelers report for minicamp, and I’ll hope then that he is fully healthy and back to his old self. Until then, I’m not going to go around labeling him a bust and the next Senquez Golson.

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