Thanks to a groin injury suffered early on in training camp, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Jordan Zumwalt has missed valuable practice time. Now that he’s finally overcome that injury and gotten himself back on the practice field again, he knows that he needs to show the coaching staff a lot between now and the final cut down day if he’s going to make the final 53 man roster.
“I just need to show that I can do it. I need to show that I know what I’m doing, one, and that I have been putting in study time so that I don’t just come out and not know what I’m doing,” said Zumwalt, the Steelers first of two sixth-round draft picks this year. “I also need to earn some respect. So I need to get out there and actually grind. I need to work hard, I need to get out there and sweat with everybody and workout, and I need to be able to show that I can play and hang with these people.”
As long as Zumwalt doesn’t have any setbacks, he’s likely gotten himself back from his injury in enough time to receive late playing time in the Steelers first preseason game Saturday night against the New York Giants.
While Zumwalt did play in similar style defense while at UCLA that was run by former Steelers defensive assistant Lou Spanos, the time that he missed early in camp combined with him not being able to attend the OTA sessions because of graduate requirements certainly won’t help his cause.
After he was drafted back in May, linebackers coach Keith Butler called Zumwalt an inside linebacker, however, there might be a chance that he receives work moving forward at one of the two outside positions in order to increase his value.
Still, Zumwalt, who was known for delivering some big hits while in college, will undoubtedly need to make his mark on special teams during the preseason if he wants a shot at making the final 53 man roster. He talks about wanting to earn respect now that he’s back on the field and there’s no better place to start than to earn the respect of special teams coach Danny Smith starting Saturday night.