By Matthew Marczi
Nobody was a fan, on record, of the Pittsburgh Steelers signing Guy Whimper as a veteran presence on a very young offensive line this offseason. Not many took any positives out of his performance during the preseason games. Most only begrudgingly included him by default as the 53rd player to make the 53-man roster on their mocks. Those same people ate a lot of crow this week, courtesy of Abdullah the Butcher.
By any standard, Guy Whimper’s performance as an in-game injury substitute—while battling an injury of his own—was impressive relative to expectations, as he helped block the offensive line to their best and most consistent performance of the year. And by no means was he a quiet contributor to that fact; he held his own just fine.
All told, Whimper played 48 of the Steelers’ 59 offensive snaps. Marcus Gilbert left after eight plays, and Mike Adams was forced to fill in for Whimper in the third quarter for three plays when he himself was forced out of the game with an injury. His first snap in the game came on Le’Veon Bell’s first carry out of the Wildcat formation.
That play came on third and short, and Whimper’s backside block on defensive end Chris Canty helped clear the path to the left (behind David DeCastro and Will Johnson) for the first down. He also helped the Steelers finish off the drive in the end zone.
After first helping DeCastro clear out Marcus Spears on Ben Roethlisberger’s shovel pass to Heath Miller, Whimper then proceeded to knock linebacker Daryl Smith out of the running lane, providing a seal that helped secure a wide open alley for Miller to cross the goal line virtually untouched.
Perhaps most impressive about his performance, however, was how he was able to fairly consistently handle the speed rush of Elvis Dumervil, who uses his quick break off the ball to beat tackles to the edge. While Whimper did not win every battle, he did win the war, as he did on this play, harmlessly navigating the dangerous pass rusher up the arc and out of the play.
Finally, Whimper gets a chance to showcase his ability to turn a man out of a hole. Granted, in this case, it is Smith, an inside linebacker whose specialty is coverage.
Whimper starts off working a double team with Adams to knock Arthur Brown off-balance before moving on to push Smith out of the way. In fact, had DeCastro gotten to Jameel McClain a bit quicker on this play, it could have gone for a big gain for Felix Jones instead of merely a first down. Credit where it is due, however; McClain made a nice play, and Jones also got leg-whipped by Courtney Upshaw prior to that hit.
Overall, knowing what we thought we knew about this player coming into the game, it would be disingenuous to describe this performance as anything short of encouraging. He came in with a whimper, but he left with a bang, and from the dust emerged Abdullah. Let’s hope he keeps his steel sharpened for the next time he is called into battle.