Steelers, Mike Tomlin Make Final Call on Rookie With ‘Olympic Level Speed’

Getty Steelers HC Mike Tomlin speaks to reporters

His season is over before it begins.

Aside from George Pickens, the most anticipated rookie of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 draft class was Calvin Austin III. His speed and athleticism displayed at training camp had fans excited to see him in action.

Unfortunately, that’ll have to wait until next season.

The Steelers announced on October 26 that the wide receiver would remain on the reserve/injured list for the rest of the season. He’s not permitted to practice with the team until spring, but he can continue involvement in all other team activities.

Update: According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Calvin Austin re-aggravated the foot injury and is scheduled to have surgery.

The good news is that T.J. Watt did return to practice. He’s expected to play after the team’s Week 9 bye week, as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said it’s “highly unlikely” he’ll suit up for the October 30 Philadelphia Eagles game.

Austin suffered a lisfranc (foot) injury the day before the Steelers’ first preseason game and was placed on injured reserve on September 1. He returned to practice on October 5, and the Steelers had 21 days to evaluate him in practice under league rules before making their decision.

In his October 25 press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hinted that injured reserve was the likely outcome for Austin.

Austin was selected in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft. He was touted in scouting reports for his “Olympic level speed,” running a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

Calvin Austin Said He Was Ready

The Pittsburgh Steelers designated Calvin Austin III to return on October 5. The designation process allows players to practice and starts the clock toward activating them.

When a player returns to practice post-injury, attention is paid to the body’s readiness — how it reacts to specific movements. According to Austin, the foot responded well.

“It feels great. It was definitely good being back out there,” Austin told Steelers media when asked about his first practice since August.

“Coach just told me to attack each day, and everything will play out.”

It certainly sounded like Austin was awaiting the green light from Mike Tomlin, and he’d be ready to suit up.

This Post was deleted by the Post author. Learn more

Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada told reporters he wasn’t sure where Austin fit in the offense.

“You guys were all at camp, and we got to see a little bit of Calvin,” Canada said on October 13. “He was doing some things, you saw some splash, but it was so early. You don’t know exactly where that fits.”

Mike Tomlin is Not Wrong

As disappointing as it is that Calvin Austin won’t take the field in 2022, Mike Tomlin’s reason for not activating him is valid.

“This guy hasn’t played in a stadium yet,” Tomlin said. “So, it’s more about development for him, and that’s the perspective that I have. I’m just being realistic, up or down, active or inactive. His overall readiness this weekend, it’s probably not a high probability.”

At this point, Steelers fans are clamoring for anything that will lift Pittsburgh’s offense, which has been disastrous through seven weeks. But veteran, experienced receivers aren’t having success, and it’s not for lack of talent.

A rookie who has never played in a professional game before isn’t going to magically make the Steelers’ offense better. It doesn’t make sense to cut an active player to make room for Austin, only for him not to be utilized.

Read More