Pittsburgh Steelers second-year guard Chris Hubbard was perhaps the biggest surprise on the final 53 man roster this year after the final cuts were made on Saturday and during his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to talk about how the former undrafted free agent has developed after spending his entire rookie season on the practice squad.
“He’s grown in all areas and that’s what the practice squad is about,” said Tomlin of Hubbard. “He’s gotten better in his knowledge of the game. He’s gotten better in his fundamentals and techniques. Obviously, he’s improved his body or his physical makeup in the weight room. He’s bigger, stronger, faster.”
During the preseason, Hubbard played 147 snaps and all but one came at left guard. His lone snap out of position came during the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers when he was used as an end-of-the-line tight end on the failed fourth down run by running back LeGarrette Blount.
Hubbard, who reportedly weighed in at 286 pounds at one his 2013 Pro Days, is noticeably bigger this season and now more than likely weighs more than 300 pounds.
Assuming backup center Cody Wallace is fully recovered from the finger injury that he suffered during the preseason, Hubbard might very find himself inactive, along with rookie offensive lineman Wesley Johnson, for the Sunday regular season opener at Heinz Field against the Cleveland Browns. If, however, the Steelers choose to dress eight offensive linemen for that game, Hubbard would likely be the eighth to get a helmet.
For now, it looks like the team will continue to try to develop Hubbard to become the heir apparent to current starting left guard Ramon Foster, who like Hubbard, also broke into the league as an undrafted free agent.
In case you missed it, our very own Alex Kozora broke down the play of Hubbard in the preseason finale against the Panthers.