By Matthew Marczi
It has been a theme for many years that, aside from the occasional special teams contributions, rookies on the Pittsburgh Steelers, including even first-round draft picks, rarely contribute during their first season. That has been especially true over the years on defense, though less so on offense.
That pattern changed somewhat in 2013 due to a variety of circumstances, both foreseen and unforeseen, as many rookies—even undrafted players—got a good chunk of playing time on both sides of the ball. Therefore, there’s more to go on than usual when speaking about how their rookie seasons went.
Player: Brian Arnfelt
Draft Status: Undrafted
Unless I’m somehow mistaken—and I’m not—inside linebacker Terence Garvin was the only rookie undrafted free agent to make the opening day roster out of training camp. That was a year after four such players achieved that feat, though only two of those four—Robert Golden and Will Johnson—remain with the team.
That is not to say that he was the only rookie undrafted free agent to make an impact on the team, however. In fact, he wasn’t the only one to eventually spend some time on the roster, as defensive end Brian Arnfelt spent the last few weeks of the season with as well, and even played a bit.
He played, specifically, exactly two snaps on defense in the Week 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Of course, it would be irresponsible to overanalyze just two snaps’ worth of playing time—it’s virtually impossible to gain anything of worth out of two snaps—but I will say that he was slow off the ball.
This is actually in direct contradiction to what I observed from him during the preseason. There were a few occasions in which I noticed that Arnfelt’s was the first helmet to move off the snap, so I don’t believe that a quick release off the snap is an issue in his game by any means.
Perhaps if anything it was a display of nerves or excessive cautiousness, not wanting to screw anything up and draw a penalty. It could be awkward taking the first snaps of your professional career in the middle of the third quarter of game late in a season in which your team’s playoff hopes are hanging on by significantly less than a thread.
Aside from the release off the snap, there is really nothing much to say about his two highly uneventful snaps. They were both passes off quick releases in which there was no chance of a rush making any sort of impact, so there’s nothing doing when it comes to meaningful evaluation.
That evaluation came during the preseason, where Arnfelt played more snaps on defense than everybody except Al Woods. After all, there’s a reason that he spent all year prior to being called up on the practice squad, and there’s a reason the Steelers signed him to a two-year deal and kept him on the roster for the remainder of the season when they did bring him up, even when they had a full slate of healthy linemen.
They like him, and they probably like his chances of being a part of their future along the defensive line, at least as a rotational player. If wouldn’t be the first time they’ve had success with low- to no-pedigreed defensive linemen.
Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – LB Jarvis Jones
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – RB Le’Veon Bell
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – WR Markus Wheaton
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – S Shamarko Thomas
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – QB Landry Jones
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – CB Terry Hawthorne
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – WR Justin Brown
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – ILB Vince Williams
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – DE Nick Williams
Steelers 2013 Draft Class Review – ILB Terence Garvin – Undrafted