Third-year Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels missed a considerable portion of training camp while on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, getting added to the list on August 2 and not coming off until August 13, when the Steelers activated Samuels and waived fullback Spencer Nigh.
On Friday, during a virtual conference call with media, Samuels confirmed that he tested positive for the coronavirus but said that he did not experience any symptoms.
“It kind of did put me back a little bit with the football standpoint,” said Samuels, according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Conditioning-wise I tried to stay up on it while I was at home just doing a little bit of stuff so when I came back I could act like I never missed a beat.
“When I got back, I felt good,” he added, saying, “My body felt good. I felt in shape still. I just tried to hop right back on the bandwagon.”
Samuels is competing for a spot on the roster in a crowded RB room that includes starter James Conner, second-year man Benny Snell Jr., rookie Anthony McFarland, and speedy Kerrith Whyte, not to mention Trey Edmunds and fullback Derek Watt.
But head coach Mike Tomlin has said enough positive things about Samuels that his roster spot ought to be safe.
“He is continuing to be impressive with his versatility,” Tomlin said earlier this week. “I think that is the thing that has always kind of distinguished him in a competitive setting among his peers: his ability to do a variety of things at a relatively high level, particularly in the passing game and outside the backfield with his hands and route-running. It is above the line from a running back perspective, for sure.”
Jaylen Samuels’ Role in 2020
On Friday Samuels said he expects the team to utilize him in a manner similar to how he has been used in the past.
“They are asking for pretty much the same thing,” Samuels said, “involving me a lot in the passing game but also trying to get me in the run game as well when they can. The majority of the passing game, on passing downs, third downs, situations like that, situational football. I’m just coming to work every day and just trying to embrace my role.”
COVID-19 and the Steelers
All told the Steelers have had a total of four players on the COVID-19 list at one time or another. The other three players were third-year wide receiver James Washington, second-year cornerback Justin Layne, and defensive back Arrion Springs, who is no longer on the roster. It’s not clear whether Washington, Layne or Springs ever tested positive for the virus, as players can be added to the list for having been exposed to someone who has the virus.
Unlike Samuels, not everyone in the Steelers family has come through contracting COVID-19 seemingly unscathed. For example, the father of offensive tackle Jarron Jones spent 47 days in the hospital and barely escaped with his life.
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