Film Room: Xavier Grimble Seeking Consistency


It should be obvious by now that the Pittsburgh Steelers are fans of young tight end Xavier Grimble. They carried him on the practice squad for the entire duration of the 2015 season, and he was on the 53-man roster all of last year, despite there being four total tight ends on the roster.

Still, they are expecting him to continue to grow during his second season, and that comes on both the blocking and receiving ends. In either case, the progress must come down largely to improving consistency.

He got most of his work during the second half, in the third quarter to be more specific, but he got the opportunity to show a little bit of both. I will have for you below a couple of examples of his run blocking, and we might as well also bring you his would-be touchdown pass, even if there is no good view of the entire play. Such is life in the preseason, however. Sigh.

While the first example was not a successful play for the offensive, resulting in a run for no gain, it was not his fault, but rather that of David Johnson, who in an otherwise strong game slipped from his block in this case. As for Grimble, he showed off some agility and physicality on this pulling inside block that left the defender on his haunches, and eventually on the ground.


It was on the next play that Knile Davis was able to crack off an 11-yard run, though in this instance, Grimble was on the backside of the action. Still, he did his job, able to turn his assignment and anchor against a bull rush attempt.

Later in the quarter, Grimble was the recipient of what I believe was his only target of the game, coming in the end zone on a third and seven from the 11-yard line. Unfortunately, it ended up coming off the record because of a holding call on the offensive line.

More unfortunate is the fact that there is limited evidence about what Grimble actually did on this play, but it can be inferred that he worked his way up from the slot to get in between two defenders, where Joshua Dobbs found him in a fairly tight window for the woulda-been score.

Grimble is at this point favored to retain his roster spot, but I do think that he remains the most vulnerable of the three. Should Jake McGee make a push after garnering some attention in the preseason opener, it’s possible that the cuts could get interesting at this position.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Boots

    DJ actually had another bad block in the first couple of series as well. Might have been the first series bc I’m pretty sure it was Fitz at RB. I don’t see anything but injury keeping Grimble off the team at this point. He’s the only dynamic receiving threat at TE. McGee isn’t going to replace that, but he could be a replacement for DJ next year. It just seems to me that the more he plays the better he keeps getting so get him out there!

  • AndyR34

    I’m liking McGee, but I see no way barring injury that he replaces Grimble because , as you said upfront, Matthew, the Steelers appear to be fans of Grimble. But I am thinking that McGee can push him and become a good choice for the PS.

  • Matthew Marczi

    You may well be talking about the first play of the game, which I highlighted in my article I did on Johnson. I initially blamed him, but upon further inspection I changed my mind. Toussaint missed a hole toward the right and unnecessarily bounced the run outside. At that point the defender had the advantage since Johnson couldn’t see what was happening behind him.

  • Boots

    I completely missed that article, I must apologize, because I definitely would’ve read it since I was a little disappointed in what I saw. In fact, I’m going to go look for it right after this. If memory is serving me correct, your explanation would make some sense on that, though.

  • Boots

    I just went back and read your article, and enjoyed it, thank you, and just to put it out there, I’m not hoping to replace DJ, I just think he’s a UFA after the season. Ok, I’m actually going to agree and disagree with you a bit. I will agree that it was supposed to go right and it put DJ at a disadvantage, but I disagree that it was unnecessary. Their MLB was unblocked in that gap and I would think that’s why he tried to cut back to the left. At any rate you definitely appear to be correct about it not being a bad block by DJ.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The Steelers actually signed Johnson to a two-year deal (which is why they had to wait for the official opening of free agency to get the deal done, as players who were on veteran-minimum qualifying deals can’t sign any other type of deal prior to the opening of free agency).

  • Boots

    Thanks, not sure why I had one year deal in my head.