ShareThis Page

Steel Mill A.M.: Versatile Roosevelt Nix adds wide receiver to his résumé

Chris Adamski
| Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, 7:30 a.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix-Jones (45) runs onto the field during pregame of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Oct. 29 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix-Jones (45) runs onto the field during pregame of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Oct. 29 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Detroit Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) goes up against Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix-Jones (45) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 29 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Detroit Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) goes up against Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix-Jones (45) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 29 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

DETROIT – He was a standout college defensive end, turned NFL fullback who'd frequently taken practice reps at tight end.

But… Roosevelt Nix… the wide receiver?

It happened Sunday. Or, at least, Nix lined up wide out in the formation along the line of scrimmage on several occasions during Sunday's 20-15 victory against the Detroit Lions.

“Yeah, just doing something different,” Nix said after the game in what was a jubilant visitor's locker room at Ford Field.

“I mean, we are just trying to do some different things to keep this powerful offense going. I'm not quite sure (why), but I just do what I'm told to do.”

Nix was not the intended receiver for any of Ben Roethlisberger's 31 throws, and he also did not get a carry (that's zero for his career). But Nix wasn't just a, um, decoy when he was lined out wide – he was running legitimate routes at times. Nix was well downfield and near the play during Roethlisberger's first-quarter interception.

Nix, as he is known for, had a strong game in protection (Roethlisberger was not sacked) – and he did it both out of the fullback and tight end spots (though he was flagged once for holding). Nix was credited with a tackle on the interception and on a kickoff return.

Though his role is, to the casual fan, an under-the-radar one, Nix was receiving quite a bit of attention last week after he (and his defined position, fullback) were ramped up in usage during recent games. Roethlisberger, running back Le'Veon Bell, other teammates, offensive coordinator Todd Haley and even head coach Mike Tomlin spoke about the myriad of ways Nix contributes – and also, in some cases, the possibility of Nix getting an elusive carry. Or even a how to get him a touchdown.

Nix? He's just happy to be on a team that's 6-2 and on a three-game winning streak heading into its bye.

“Aw man, I love my team, and the energy of this team,” Nix said. “We are playing good football right now, and it's just a blessing.”

Sunday's result

Steelers 20, Lions 15

Three stats to know

1. The Steelers were 6-2 after eight games under Mike Tomlin during each of his first five seasons. But they hadn't been since, until now.

2. Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster each have been targeted on exactly 36 Ben Roethlisberger throws this season. Smith-Schuster has 24 catches for 424 yards and four touchdowns; Bryant has 18 catches for 234 yards and one touchdown.

3. The Steelers have not allowed a touchdown on the opponent's opening drive for 25 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Weekly schedule

The Steelers practice Tuesday and Wednesday, then a four-day break for the bye week.

Three storylines for the week

1. Is the bye coming at a good time because it's exactly midseason and it will help the Steelers recharge for the stretch run? Or is it coming at a bad time because it could stunt the momentum of a three-game winning streak?

2. Watch for Cameron Sutton to return to the practice field this week. The rookie third-round pick is on injured reserve but eligible to play in games if the Steelers designate him to return. Once Sutton begins practicing, he will have to be activated to the 53-man roster within three weeks.

3. Is Bryant automatically back with the first team and in good graces after his benching this past week because of his negative social-media posts? Or is he stuck in de facto-suspension purgatory? (Bonus: even if he is welcomed back by Tomlin, how far has he slid down the depth chart?).

Next game

Steelers (6-2) at Indianapolis Colts (2-6), 1 p.m. Nov. 12, Lucas Oil Stadium

The Colts might be the worst team in the NFL not named the Browns. In fact, a case could be made they are actually worse than the Browns (a Sept. 24 home win against Cleveland notwithstanding) – their minus-104 point differential is the worst in the NFL. And by a wide margin.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.