If you’re not going to be a big guy in the NFL, you better be fast. Rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin sure checks that second box. Austin, like fellow rookie George Pickens, has continuously made noise during camp. After making more plays during Saturday’s closed camp practice, Austin earned praise 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 slowing down for us, the more reps we get. Obviously when he knows what he’s doing, with the speed that he has, he’s really tough to cover. So he’s done a really good job.”
Austin reportedly caught a touchdown to cap off 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 got the offense inside the ten. Pickens finished off that drive with a touchdown.
While we won’t have camp stats from today’s session, since the pads arrived on Monday, Austin has shined. In numbers that will be posted tomorrow, Austin has six receptions on nine targets for 124 yards over the last four practice sessions and 160 yards since the start of camp. His yards easily lead the team thanks to a 76-yard touchdown he had deep down the left sideline from a previous practice on a pass thrown by Mason Rudolph. But Austin also has receptions of 13 and 21 yards while working the quick/underneath game too, highlighting his versatile skillset, a great blend of long speed and underneath twitchiness.
Mitch Trubisky also spoke with reporters and, via the PPG’s Steve Rotstein, said it seems like overthrowing Austin is an impossible task.
“Seems like it,” he said. “You put it out there and you’re like, ‘I don’t know if he’s going to get to it.’ And then he runs underneath it…we just gotta keep utilizing his speed.”
Trubisky went on to say he’s witnessed a “big jump” in Austin’s play from last week to this week. The same can be said for multiple rookies, Pickett included, who has made steady progress after a slow first couple of days of training camp. While Austin’s Week One role is a little less clear than Pickens’, good players who make plays find their way onto the field. Pittsburgh still has uncertainty of its slot receiver this year and Austin has primarily worked inside after playing outside at Memphis. His production may fluctuate but he’s poised to hit a couple of home runs this year, making for a potent rookie combo alongside Pickens.