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 Steven Sims
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The veteran wide receiver confirmed yesterday that he was told he would get the opportunity to return kicks for the Steelers on Sunday after the team’s starting return man, Gunner Olszewski, fumbled or muffed a punt three times in the first four games.
Steven Sims made the Steelers’ initial 53-man roster right from the get-go and has never been off it. That likely wouldn’t have been the case had rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin III been healthy, instead starting the year on the Reserve/Injured List, but that borrowed time has helped to provide him with the opportunity he is now in.
Based on what he told reporters yesterday, he is going to get a chance to be the team’s return man after Gunner Olszewski put the ball on the ground three times in four weeks. Sims has return work on his resume, and he looked the part for the Steelers during the preseason as well.
If he perhaps well in this role, it’s certainly very possible that he ends up keeping the job. And the Steelers wouldn’t have started Austin’s clock if they didn’t intend to put him on the 53-man roster soon. So that means Olszewski is very much in danger of not just losing his job, but his roster spot as well.
Of course, Sims’ own resume is not unblemished, either. He actually fumbled or muffed a punt five times during the 2020 season, but as long as those issues are held at bay, there is no reason to believe that he couldn’t offer as much to this team as Olszewski.
Sims has more experience playing wide receiver, and he has that same open-space quickness and elusiveness that we see not just on returns but on jet sweeps and screen passes. He is more likely to be an offensive contributor, and the Steelers could use another one of those. After basically a year away from the opportunity to contribute, this is his chance to get his foot back in the door and kick it open.