Steelers News

Calvin Austin III Believes He Hasn’t Missed Too Much While On IR: ‘From A Mental Standpoint, I’m Right There’

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiving corps was in shambles just after the outset of free agency, or so was the storyline, with JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud all departing for other opportunities. By the time the team was putting the 53-man roster together, the tune had changed. Suddenly it was a position of depth—maybe they could even flip one for a late-round pick.

Fast forward another month and, well, there’s talent, but none of them have a touchdown pass yet, and only three of them have a catch. But Miles Boykin is evidently here for special teams, and apparently Gunner Olszewski (for now) and Steven Sims as well, so the hope is that rookie fourth-round pick Calvin Austin III can hop on the moving train.

Having spent the first four weeks of the season on the Reserve/Injured List, the Memphis product officially began practicing yesterday. While he owned up to some fatigue after the layoff, however, he stressed that mentally, he’s at where everybody else is in the room, or just about.

“Well, actually I haven’t missed too much”, he told reporters yesterday via the team’s website. “I’ve been with the guys throughout meetings, practice, walkthroughs, everything, so as far as from the mental standpoint, I’m right there with them. Physically, just getting back out there, being out that long there’s gonna be a little rust, so just knocking that off”.

Austin suffered a foot injury on the day before the Steelers’ first preseason game. The impression was that he was likely close to participation by the time the regular season was about to begin, but the team made the decision to put him on the shelf.

Four weeks into the year, with the offense, and the passing game, failing to produce, the Steelers have now started his clock at the first opportunity. They now have 21 days from yesterday to activate him to the 53-man roster.

I wouldn’t bet that he is removed from IR this week. After all, he’s hardly even practiced if we’re being honest. He had a couple of weeks of training camp. He hasn’t been in a stadium. He’s got to get his football endurance up, just as step one.

But the fact of the matter is that they wouldn’t have bothered to put the wheels in motion if they didn’t intend to get him back and presumably let him play as well. It’s not as though there isn’t room for another wide receiver to get on the field and contribute.

And as he talked about himself, it doesn’t hurt that when he was working this spring and summer, it was mostly with their new starting quarterback, fellow rookie Kenny Pickett, who spent that time primarily running on the third-team unit.

Now they will soon be playing pitch and catch inside of NFL stadiums, or so we can hope, contributing alongside Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and that other rookie, George Pickens, coming off of his first career 100-yard game, and among the nominees for this week’s Rookie of the Week.

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