If you’re not a big man in the NFL, you better be fast. Rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin checks that second box. Austin has made consistent noise during camp, as has rookie George Pickins. After making more plays in Saturday’s closed camp practice, Austin got credit from QB Kenny Pickett.
“We always talk about every day, we feel like we’re getting better and more comfortable in the offense,” he said, via Steelers.com. “Everything’s cooling down, we’re getting a lot of reps. When he knows what he’s doing, with his speed, he’s obviously going to be tough to cover. So he did a great job,” he said.
Austin reportedly tried to get Mitch Trubisky to finish two-minute drills. Austin played a big role in Trubisky’s earlier in the week, including a 20-yard completion that got the offense inside the ten. Pickens ended that drive with a touchdown.
While we don’t have camp stats from today’s session, since the scrimmages came on Monday, Austin shined. With numbers to be posted tomorrow, Austin has 124 yards on nine targets over the past four practice sessions and 160 yards on six receptions since the start of camp. The yards on a pass thrown by Mason Rudolph easily led the team thanks to a 76-yard dash down the left side from the previous practice. But Austin also has receptions of 13 and 21 yards while running the rush/down game, which shows his versatility, great mix of long speed and an under tackle.
Mitch Trubisky spoke to reporters and, via PPG’s Steve Rothstein, said it would be impossible to topple Austin.
“It seems,” he said. “You put him out there and you say, ‘I don’t know if he’s going to get there.’
Trubisky went on to say that he saw a “huge jump” in Austin’s play from last week to this week. The same can be said for several rookies, including Pickett, who has shown steady improvement after just the first two days of training camp. While Austin’s role one week is a little less clear than Pickens’, players who make good plays are on the field. Pittsburgh still has uncertainty at slot receiver this year, and Austin has worked inside after playing primarily on the outside in Memphis. His production may fluctuate, but he’s poised to hit two home runs this year, making for a solid starting lineup alongside Pickens.