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.