In wake of injuries, Steelers’ Jerald Hawkins keeps positive outlook
One of the easiest guys to root for in the Steelers dressing room is offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins.
Unfortunately, fans of the team have barely had a chance to do that during actual games.
The affable fourth-year offensive lineman has spent most of his first three years in Pittsburgh either injured or on the bench. Now he finds himself in a fight for playing time in an unusually deep offensive line depth chart.
In 2017, Hawkins played in five games, often as the team’s sixth offensive lineman — or “extra tight end” — in jumbo sets. But his 2016 rookie year was spent entirely on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, and a quad injury during minicamp killed his 2018.
Those opportunities lost have allowed the likes of Matt Feiler and Chuks Okorafor to emerge as more likely replacements for the traded Marcus Gilbert at right tackle. So Hawkins may have to play a little guard to keep himself marketable to the offensive coaching staff.
Despite all the pitfalls so far, no player on that roster carries himself with as much optimism and with a smile on his face as often as Hawkins does. So I won’t apologize for openly hoping things work out here for him.
In this podcast, the LSU product tells us how he has managed to keep a positive outlook despite the hurdles he has faced in his career, the weight he has tried to keep off from his college years, and his attempt to retain the education he got from Mike Munchak now that his former offensive line coach has moved on to Denver.