Making The Club In The Tub Will Be Tough For Steelers Rookies Zumwalt, Blanchflower

It’s hard for any player to make the club if he’s always in tub. It’s especially hard if those players are rookie late round draft picks. Such is the case this year during the first full week of training camp practices as two Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks have already found themselves observing practices from afar.

Sixth-round linebacker Jordan Zumwalt and seventh-round tight end Rob Blanchflower are the two Steelers players that have unfortunately been fallen by injuries early on in camp.

Zumwalt, who tweaked his groin during Monday’s practice, failed to practice Wednesday and head coach Mike Tomlin described as day-to-day following practice.

Zumwalt, as you may remember, also missed all of the OTA practices during the spring due to graduation rules, so the additional time that he’s missing early on in training camp does not bode well for him, as he runs the risk of falling even further behind than he might already be.

As for Blanchflower, he’s dealing with a left high ankle sprain and Tomlin said Wednesday that the Massachusetts product could miss a week or so with it. The young tight end missed several games during his senior season due to a bilateral hernia and that, in all likelihood, was the main reason why he dropped so far in the draft. Even when he was healthy enough to play on Saturday’s last season, the injury prevented him from practicing quite a bit.

In the case of both Zumwalt and Blanchflower, they play positions that are normally expected to contribute on special teams, so not being on the field to catch the eye of coach Danny Smith also hurts their chances of making the final 53 man roster.

As we have pointed out in a few previous post, history has shown us that we can expect a few of the draft picks won’t make the club this year. As of right now, both Zumwalt and Blanchflower are at risk of adding to that history if neither of them can get out of the tub and back onto the Saint Vincent practice fields.

  • Kurt Williams

    Seems Eric Waters has stepped up, does he have a legitimate chance of making the 53? I read his blocking is good, and receiving skills are underrated.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    I think history shows that you win a job on the 53-man roster on the field when you’re a low-draft pick or UDFA. They need to get on the field asap. The good news is that the first pre-season game isn’t until the 9th, so they do have a little bit of time. I have read good things about Eric Waters. I do see out on the internet that he isn’t as tall as advertised, only 6′ 3 1/8 inches and only 18 reps on the bench press, so maybe not as strong as he needs to be.

  • steeltown

    It would definitely appear out of the rookie draft picks that BFlower and Zumwalt are at the greatest risk of not making the Team or squad, everyone else including McCullers has represented themselves pretty well thus far.

  • treeher

    Will the team carry four tight ends? If not, then I think the trio of Miller, Spaeth, and Waters is a lock at this point. Blanch still has a shot at #4. With the crowd we have at LB, Zumwalt was always a long shot at best.

  • Burgh Ball

    Good question re the carrying of 4 TE’s.. With Will Johnson getting some PT at TE.. I think we could keep 3 plus the FB/TE Will Johnson. THat is one player I’d like us to get more involved and more touches

  • Jacque Strappe

    I think this is exactly how it will wind up.

  • Bill

    Steelers need a YOUNG TE who has attitude, can run the routes, catch the ball and block. Will Johnson and Matt Spaeth are not that. I don’t know about the new phenom and I haven’t seen much from others from last season, but the team needs to groom someone to replace Miller. Not a group of jacks of all trades who are really outstanding at nothing. They need a long look at realistic prospects and Blanchflower should be one of those.

  • Milliken Steeler

    Spaeth actually is a great blocker and when you throw the ball to him….he catches it. That’s all you can ask from a player.

    Why, when in the redzone, you wouldn’t look more often at a 6’7″ TE is a mystery. If you look at his career catches, his TD ratio is good.

  • Bill

    I believe Spaeth is a decent tight end who should be targeted more in the passing game and should be on the final roster. My comment was really directed at a developing a young replacement for Miller which is what I was hoping for in Branchflower. The way I see it if he shows enough promise, the Steelers should take the time to develop him even if he has the dreaded HA sprain at present. Enough with the average players that play multiple positions.