If you’re not going to be a big guy in the NFL, you better be quick. Rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin certainly checks that second box. Austin, like fellow rookie George Pickens, continually made noise during camp. After making more plays in Saturday’s closed camp practice, Austin earned praise from QB Kenny Pickett.
“We’re still talking everyday, feeling we’re getting better and more comfortable on offense,” he said via Steelers.com. “Everything slows down for us the more reps we get. Obviously when he knows what he’s doing, with the speed he has, he’s really hard to cover. So he’s done a really good job.
Austin reportedly grabbed a touchdown to cap Mitch Trubisky’s two-minute drill. Austin played a big role in Trubisky’s first session earlier in the week, including a 20-yard completion that put the offense into the ten. Pickens finished that drive with a touchdown.
Although we don’t have the stats from today’s session camp, since the pads arrived on Monday, Austin has been shining. In numbers to be posted tomorrow, Austin has six receptions on nine targets for 124 yards over the last four practices and 160 yards since the start of camp. His yards easily lead the team thanks to a 76-yard touchdown he had deep in the left sideline in a previous practice on a pass thrown by Mason Rudolph. But Austin also has receptions from 13 and 21 yards while also working the fast/underhand game, highlighting his all-around skills, a great mix of long speed and underhand contractions.
Mitch Trubisky also spoke to reporters and, via PPG’s Steve Rotstein, said it looks like unseating Austin is an impossible task.
“Looks like it,” he said. “You put it out there and you’re like, ‘I don’t know if he’s going to make it. And then he runs underneath…we just have to keep using his speed.
Trubisky went on to say he’s witnessed a “big leap” in Austin’s play from last week to this week. The same can be said for several rookies, Pickett included, who made steady progress after a few slow first days of training camp. While Austin’s role in week one is a little less clear than Pickens’, good players who make plays find themselves on the field. Pittsburgh still has some uncertainty about its slot receiver this year and Austin has mostly worked inside after playing away at Memphis. His production may fluctuate, but he’s poised to hit a few home runs this year, making him a powerful rookie combo alongside Pickens.