Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, Anthony Miller, has been one of the lone bright spots on offense so far in training camp. Entering his first full season with the team, he’s shown an ability to consistently get open. Diontae Johnson’s absence, as well as Chase Claypool’s injury, has benefitted Miller immensely. He’s seen plenty of first-team reps at wide receiver with those two out, hooking up with his old quarterback in Chicago, Mitch Trubisky.
Every year in camp, there’s the punt return drill in which competitors try to catch as many footballs as possible without dropping any of them. On Monday, Miller impressed the Latrobe crowd by catching six footballs. He proceeded to one-up himself on Tuesday by catching seven balls, via the Steelers’ Twitter page:
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2022
The drill helps with a multitude of things for return men. First, it helps with ball security and watching the ball into your hands and/or body. Additionally, the drill helps with concentration and focus. Those are the two most important components of being a returner, and the drill emphasizes just that, as you have to catch a ball while also making sure you don’t drop the other ones already in your grip.
The punt returning job seems to be an interesting one, as there are multiple possibilities and capable guys. That’s different from past Steelers teams, as they’ve always struggled to find a legitimate guy in the return game. Ray-Ray McCloud provided some stability in that aspect over the past few years, but he left for the San Francisco 49ers this off-season.
The Steelers responded to McCloud’s departure with a likely upgrade in Gunner Olszewski, formerly of the New England Patriots. Olszewski made First Team All-Pro in 2020, averaging 17.3 yards per punt return including a touchdown. In addition to Olszewski, the Steelers drafted wide receiver Calvin Austin III in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The speedster’s been getting special teams reps in camp thus far, providing some competition to Olszewski, Miller, and others.
Olszewski still is the overwhelming favorite to win the punt returning job, but it doesn’t hurt to have multiple options there. Olszewski has also shown some flashes at wide receiver in camp so far, which he showed very little of in his time in New England.
Heading into training camp, Miller seemed like an afterthought. After a few solid seasons with the Chicago Bears, he had a disappointing 2021 year. He spent the first part of the season with the Houston Texans, but they ended up cutting him and he ended up in Pittsburgh. Now, he seems to have the inside track on making the Steelers’ 53-man roster, which would likely leave a guy like Miles Boykin off the team. With that being said, there is still a lot of time left before the season begins.
Yinz, if you are interested in writing for us here at SteelerNation, see the details here. Who do you guys think will be the Steelers’ return man? Will Miller make the 53-man roster? What wide receivers will make the Steelers roster? Let us know your thoughts and feelings in the comment section below!
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