The calendar has now flipped over to July and that means the Pittsburgh Steelers annual training camp will be getting underway in Latrobe later this month. As usual, we have several series planned to get you ready for this year’s training camp and mine will center around preview profiles of 50 players over the course of the next 25 days. Most of these profiles will be on players who were under contract with the team in 2016.
Up thirty-first in this series is a 2017 preview profile of tackle Chris Hubbard.
Intro: Hubbard made the Steelers 53-man roster last season as a reserve tackle and wound up starting four games with three coming at right tackle in place of injured starter Marcus Gilbert. In most of his other offensive snaps played, Hubbard lined up as a tight end. The one regular season game he failed to dress for he was a healthy scratch. He played above-the-line last season in his three tackle starts.
Current Strengths: Hubbard’s overall athleticism is probably his biggest strength. His run blocking at right tackle last season when asked to start was also above the line and that’s likely why he was also used so much as an extra tight end during the regular season. Uses his hands well. He handled stunts really well last season as a pass protector in his starts and stayed on the appropriate level. He can play all five positions on the offensive line and while right tackle appears to be his best spot by far, position flexibility is always important and an asset.
Current Weaknesses: Hubbard’s biggest weakness is probably as a pass protector and especially when it comes to recovering against good inside moves. He struggles with his leverage at times and has a tendency to over and under set as a pass protector. Some balance issues. Hubbard doesn’t function as well inside a phone booth and we have seen this in the past in the limited snaps he has played at center and guard. He also has problems anchoring at times once hands get inside his chest.
2017 Outlook: Hubbard enters this year’s training camp as a likely candidate to be one of the teams backup offensive linemen once again. However, he’ll have some competition for the swing tackle job in the form of second-year player Jerald Hawkins, who missed his 2016 rookie season with a shoulder injury. With that said, there’s a good chance that both Hubbard and Hawkins wind up making the 53-man roster in 2017. Hubbard, however, might not see the amount of offensive snaps he saw last season and especially if the offensive line remains healthy.
2017 Base Salary: $1,797,000
2017 Salary Cap Charge: $1,797,000
2017 Health Status: No known ailments exiting offseason program
2016 Health Status: Zero games missed last season due to injury
2016 Regular Season Snaps Played: 325 of 1,083
2016 Stat That Matters: No sacks allowed last season in limited playing time