Tomlin On Hunter: ‘He’s Making A Lot Of Plays’

If we’ve learned anything during the Pittsburgh Steelers first six training camp practices of 2017, it’s the fact that new wide receiver Justin Hunter is making himself very hard player to cut later on in the summer.

Hunter, the former second-round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans, seems to be making a few big plays in each and every practice and Thursday was no different. After Thursday’s practice concluded, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about Hunter and if he’s been impressed by the fifth-year wide receiver so far during training camp.

“He’s making a lot of plays and doing a good job,” Tomlin said. “But as you mentioned, he’s a veteran football player and I think we remember that although he’s new to us, he’s going into his fifth year in the National Football League and it shows from time to time.”

With a lot of training camp practices and four preseason games still yet to go before final cuts are made, Hunter, who signed a one-year contract earlier in the offseason, is sure looking like he’ll ultimately land a spot on the 53-man roster this year. The fact that third-year wide receiver Sammie Coates isn’t likely to come off the team’s Active PUP list anytime soon also helps his chances as does the fact that veteran wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey hasn’t been overly productive player on offense during his last three seasons in Pittsburgh.

For now, Hunter has to be considered one of the Steelers camp darlings with one third of the team’s time in Latrobe now over. He’s been very consistent to boot and it’s important for that to continue.

  • WARisHELL

    I had a talk with some guys on the Titans sub-reddit. And, to no surprise he was their camp darling every year as well. But once it counted he was wildly inconsistent. I think it would be wise to temper our expectations of Hunter. Still it’s nice to see. And perhaps with Mann coaching him and Ben throwing him the ball he can become more than what he was with Tennessee.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Good gouge.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Not even mad at him! Expecting him to make the 53 now!

  • Walt Dongo

    So is it DHB/Coates/Ayers battling for the 6th spot at this point?

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Here’s my thing with Hunter. Looks super talented, but if he can’t beat out the Titans or Bills WRs I don’t know what to say. And don’t give me that bad qb talk! You still can’t beat those receivers???

  • Rocksolid20

    Has to be . I was hoping for Coates but now I just don’t
    see it . Hunter can get the job done . Maybe Coates to the PS .

  • PapaJuju

    Yeah, but who the hell had been throwing him the ball? Nobody worth a damn. I also think he has had some work ethic issues that hopefully he has worked through now.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    He should still be able to beat out those receivers tho.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Hunter is still battling for a spot too. I’m not buying this performance because it’s been nothing new. He’s a great practice performer because of his physical traits, but it hasn’t translated into games.

  • Alan Tman

    Red zone package. MB10 and Hunter on the outside with AB in the slot. LB26 and RN45 in the backfield. That’s trouble for defenses!!

  • It’s GREAT that Hunter is doing as well as he is…and I’ll cross my fingers he stays healthy, continues to perform, grows even more in sync with Ben, and does equally well or better in pre-season games and games that count. In my opinion, Steelers Nation better share my hopes for the simple reasons that 1) the league seems to be dragging its feet re reinstating MB fully, and as others have noted, this could be a very bad sign of worse to come [as in Roger wants to express his ego], and 2 who knows whether SC will regain his lost confidence or his 2016 early-season “you go long” skill level. If not, we’re left with DHB as our only deep threat other than AB and we saw how that worked last year. [Note: Juju might become a good, tough slot and/or possession WR, but he doesn’t have 4.4 speed or Hunter’s length.] So until MB is fully reinstated and Coates consistently proves himself…we’d better PRAY that JH is the real deal. […and I’m not even religious;<]]

  • Walt Dongo

    I want it to be Coates but it probably going to be DHB

  • SilverSteel

    Looking that way…

  • Jason

    Putting Hunter on the team after 5 practices is jumping the gun a bit don’t ya think?

  • Joseph Shaw

    Cold splash of water to the face. Probably a good thing.

  • Jason

    Completely agree. 5 practices and people think he’s going to be a contributor. He was available for a reason.

  • Jaybird

    I lit like it Tman! But I might like MB and Hunter outside, AB in the slot , Grimble at TE and LB as the lone back even more . So many good options.

  • Jaybird

    I think A QB like Ben will automatically make a marginal WR like Hunter better. So will having AB on the other side and LB in the backfield. I’m not saying he’s going to be a stud,but I think he can bring something to the table that Ben likes- tall WR , good deep threat and possible Red Zone target.

  • Walt Dongo

    at this point i said

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    What would he have to do to convince you otherwise?

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    DHB possesses a lot of those same qualities, but hasn’t look as good as Hunter has in practice. He is still battling to be sure. I think it’s fair to say he’s got a fighting chance though. Let’s wait to see what he can do with a QB like Ben and a receiver like AB playing opposite him. Given a set of circumstances that advantageous, he may succeed where he has previously failed…

  • pittsburghjoe

    too bad this is a one year deal.

  • Scunge

    78 catches for 1,305 yards, a 16.7 yard average with 12 TDs with 7 catches over 40+ yards isn’t exactly nothing. That TD to catch ratio is pretty impressive, look at what he did last season with Buffalo, 10 catches, 4 TDs. I think he would be a great #5 WR.

  • AndrewWoo

    Coates doesn’t have an PS eligibility left, does he?

  • Steeler Nation!

    Can’t see that happening.

  • Matthew Marczi

    12 TDs in 4 years is 3 TDs a year. Less than 20 catches a year. Less than 400 yards a year. It’s not nothing but it’s not a lot either. He has to hope Coates takes himself out of the running because wide receivers that far down the depth chart have to play on special teams and he has 4 snaps on special teams in his entire career.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yes, all four of them have a good shot at landing one of the last two roster spots, to be sure. It seems like Hamilton is really struggling to stay in the race though. Of course we haven’t even reached the first benchmark (preseason game) yet. Still a long way to go. And once Bryant is able to practice, Hunter is going to be playing with Landry.

  • Matthew Marczi

    To start with, he needs to do it in a preseason game. He’s been doing this in training camps his entire career. He’s shy around contact, too, another thing I’d like to see outside of a controlled setting (e.g., in a game). Tennessee fans have seen this program four times already, and the last time they decided they’d rather watch something else.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    for the umpteenth time.
    ab
    bryant/hunter
    rogers/juju
    dhb.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    when justin hunter wearing wheatons number shows more at training camp than wheaton did in 4 years. and im not counting the seattle game because that was an exception to the rule.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    the issues are 1) coaching 2) the qb 3) scheme fit

  • Michael Mosgrove

    i wouldnt even put ayers and coates in that discussion. while this has been dhb’s worst camp since signing im expecting him to turn it around.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    except theyve not really used nix all that much. take for example will johnson. he was a more than capable runner and receiver, but very rarely used in those roles. used mostly as an extra tight end which is what they now use mother hubbard for.

  • DirtDawg1964

    I’m just excited they were running man and press coverage. Burns was glued to AB. And I think thats Cockrell on Hunter and there wasn’t a lot of room there – unbelievable throw and Hunter’s length wins the day. But coverage was good.

  • Rocksolid20

    Not real sure but I was thinking so .

  • Rocksolid20

    No practices and people think Golson is going to be
    a contributor ?!

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    He admittedly brings nothing to special teams, but he is a serious red zone threat. Coates is not a factor in the red zone. This team needs help in the red zone perhaps more than it does on special teams. A better way of putting it is: Are Coates’ 14 special teams tackles worth more than Hunter’s 5 red zone TD receptions? (I went on the high end of both projections)

  • Mark

    AB, MB, JH, JJ, with LeVeon in backfield making defenses honor the run at all times. I like Rogers, however, his speed isn’t where we need it. I would take a bruiser like JJ and JH in slot, slaughtering defenses.

  • Steeler Nation!

    No!

  • John

    He looked real good at Tennessee in college and Ben likes bigger WR. Hopefully he will figure it out here and contribute nicely. Not sure why he didn’t elsewhere. He certainly has the talent.

  • Alan Tman

    I’m saying spread the defense with three receivers that require double teams and have the threat of the power running game. That would be hard to stop!!!

  • MC

    I know its only camp, but I would go with Hunter over Coates.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He does.

  • Matthew Marczi

    That’s not how roster-building works. If Hunter is going to be the fifth guy then he’s not even going to get on the field or dress because the sixth, special-teams guy is going to dress over him. There’s no reason Coates can’t be a factor in the red zone anyway. One of his two touchdowns was near the goal line.

  • T3xassteelers

    Where’s nixie been? I haven’t heard his name yet

  • T3xassteelers

    I really hope DA shows, I’d like him to be on that list TOO

  • Zarbor

    I agree. However, you never know what it takes for it to click for some guys. Mann as you’ve stated is a heck of a coach. We will miss him. Needless, with Hunter looking good getting the coaches attention I’m sure it will make Martavis take note that he does have at least camp competition….No its wasn’t JuJu.

  • SoCal Steeler

    Maybe Hunter has been wildly inconsistent but so has his QB’s and that’s not going to be the case now. Barring injury he’s on the 53. Take it to the bank. The Steelers aren’t going into this season without a very capable extra deep threat and red zone threat after all of injuries and suspension left them severely lacking last year.

  • CP72

    I think what separates Hunter from Coates is it’s sounds like he had the ability to high point the ball. As big as Sammie’s frame is he doesn’t use it well. We all know Ben isn’t afraid to throw up a few 50/50 balls.

  • Alan Tman

    I wouldn’t use him much either. LB26 isn’t here, and I would want him to be healthy this year, so he can play the whole season. He missed half of last year.

  • disqus_WrRvUyG2DA

    Besides the great play by Hunter the thing that really catches my eye is how close the corners are to the line of scrimmage. I hope we see this during the season. No more ten yard cushions.

  • SilverSteel

    Seems obvious that Coates, DHB, Cobi are not in his league. He has polish and the tools. Don’t see a scenario where he’s cut.

  • SilverSteel

    So Ayers to the PS again?

  • SilverSteel

    Amen 🙏

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Can’t tell who’s covering in the video. Anyone know?

  • SilverSteel

    Seems like Johnson is getting a ton of receiving opportunities this camp.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Most likely.

  • Smitty 6788

    I couldn’t agree more. Even if you’re in zone doesn’t mean you have to be giving ridiculous cushions.

  • T3xassteelers

    True, just weird I haven’t even heard his name.. I’ve heard the names Christian Brown more than his!!

  • SoCal Steeler

    Yeah, I agree as far as being a good down field and red zone threat. I’m pretty sure we’ll see better numbers from him than in the past with Ben will be throwing him the ball and the fact that he has probably been humbled and has grown up a bit. Barring injury, though his playing time might be limited. Likely to see time in 3-4 WR packages and in the red zone.
    I think that one way or another that DHB and Cobi will be gone. I’m not sure about Coates, I don’t think that the Steelers are ready to give up on him yet. He could possibly get traded but no way is he an outright cut.

  • SilverSteel

    Agreed on Coates. Their is some upside there for sure. Gonna be tough cuts for WR.

  • jsteeler

    Those teams didn’t want to pay him. It’s ok. Hunter will pay all of them back on the field.
    by the way who are you beating out?
    Negative azz

  • jsteeler

    Matthew,
    Great read. But, I am shocked and very dissapointed at your opinions and comments viewed as facts.
    Hunter has been on 2 run heavy teams in his last 4 years. Buffalo-# 1 in rushing and Tennessee- #3. (Pittsburgh-#14) Hunter has never been a #1,2 or 3 WR in those offenses. Matthew, You should know run heavy teams feature the TE as the primary pass catchers. Carolina-Olsen & Chargers-Gates, Patriots- Gronk/Bennett. In Buffalo in 2016, Tyrod Taylor threw to: TE-Charles Clay-57 rec, WR-Robert Woods-51 rec and RB- Shady Mccoy had 50 rec. This is not even including Sammy Watkins. The Bills never threw the ball down the field. Matthew, How was Hunter suppose get more than 40 catches being the 4th option on a running team? Same for when he was in Tennessee. Mariota threw to: TE-Delanie Walker-94 rec, TE-Anthony Fasano-36 rec WR-Harry Douglas & Kendall Wright-36 rec a piece, Dorial-Green Beckham-32 rec, HUNTER-22 & RB-Dexter McCluster-31 rec, Antonio Andrews-21 rec, Bishop Sankey- 14 rec.
    To diminish what this guy has done working with Ben with Coates out and Bryant not on the field is just down right disrespectful. Barring Injury, Hunter will be the 4th WR on the field in 2017. Hunter’s rapport with Ben is evident he wasn’t used properly in poor passing systems that were run 1st offenses. Ben has a lot of say about personnel in certain sets on the field. Ben loves his tall go get it types as well. I am a Justin Hunter fan. His availability cannot go unnoticed.

  • jsteeler

    AB, Wheaton, Eli or Martavis never brought anything to the ST. Hunter shouldn’t have too either.
    The Steelers have lots of young defensive players for that. Besides, DHB, Ju Ju, Conner & Coates should still be available. Ayers & Hamilton just might be gone or PS?

  • Matthew Marczi

    Brown made the Pro Bowl as a returner. Wheaton also played on special teams. Rogers returned punts last year. Bryant spent the first six games of his career inactive because he didn’t play special teams. Are you sure you’re helping your argument?

    Ayers and Hamilton could both end up on the practice squad, but if they keep six on the 53-man roster, it’s more likely they only keep one.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He is available because three teams have already decided to go with other players and he signed a bargain contract with a fourth team. If he’s so good he shouldn’t be such a journeyman. Maybe he’ll finally blossom with the Steelers. I’ve simply urged caution.