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 Gunner Olszewski
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: With the Steelers now down to only five wide receivers on their 53-man roster for the rest of the season following the trade of Chase Claypool and the season-ending injury for rookie Calvin Austin III, Gunner Olszewski appears guaranteed to have a helmet for the remainder of the season. And possibly even some work in the slot.
Is Gunner Olszewski now the Steelers’ number two slot receiver? I have no idea what the future may hold for him on offense exactly—certainly more than before Chase Claypool was traded—but I do know that a group of wide receivers that started out at seven is now down to five, and he remains one of them.
Even in spite of the fact that he lost his job as the primary return man due to his ball security issues, Olzsewski will continue to contribute, and he has seen work on both return and coverage units on special teams.
Up to now, he has only played 39 snaps on offense all season, including zero in two of the last three weeks, and has not seen more than 10 in a single game. There exists the possibility of that changing in a meaningful way.
The Steelers tried to make Chase Claypool their primary slot receiver. He told reporters after arriving in Chicago that he didn’t feel as though it was fully successful. Either way, it means for the Steelers that they have to have a new primary slot receiver.
It appears again that Sims has an edge here over Olszewski, which he certainly should, but there is no reason the team should not give a variety of different options a look. Going from very possibly being released to now seemingly guaranteed not just a roster spot by a gameday helmet for the rest of the season, the fourth-year veteran has an opportunity to redeem himself.