Injuries give 1st-team reps to Steelers returning practice-squad center Patrick Morris
On a team with four undrafted players among the projected top six offensive linemen, Patrick Morris has recognized over his 16 months with the Pittsburgh Steelers that this is a good place to be.
“Obviously as an undrafted guy, there’s a harder road,” Morris said during minicamp, “so I like being here because you can see the road has been paved beforehand with (undrafted) guys.”
A strong and stout interior lineman, Morris got a chance to be a starter for a day Wednesday at Saint Vincent. With Maurkice Pouncey out because of an undisclosed minor injury and B.J. Finney leaving practice because of the heat, Morris was the first-team center for the majority of the session on Chuck Noll Field.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Morris spent last season on the Steelers’ practice squad after being a multiyear starter for a successful Power 5 offense at TCU.
Finney, a Kansas State alum, similarly spent his rookie season on the practice squad before earning a job as the top interior backup. It’s a gig he’s going into his fourth season holding — now on a $3.1 million salary.
Like Finney, Morris is being groomed for all three interior line spots. He has played more at center (as during his senior year of college), but the Steelers are making an effort to get him reps at guard, too.
“I need to show that I can do all three,” Morris said. “That will be good for me. The guys before me, that’s kind of their path.”
— TCU Football (@TCUFootball) May 22, 2018
Assuming there are no injuries or other unforeseen circumstances between now and the start of the season, Morris seems slotted in as the top interior lineman on the practice squad. His primary competition for spots at the bottom of the 53-man roster and on the practice squad are former Alabama center J.C. Hassenauer and Fred Johnson, an undrafted rookie from Florida who is a guard/tackle.
“Everything definitely feels like more slowed down,” he said. “My head’s not swimming as much. It’s easier to understand the detail of my job and understand what I need to do — the assignment and the detail within the assignment.
“I feel my awareness of what’s happening pre-snap is a lot better. And also, my awareness (after) the snap is a lot better and my reactions as far as what’s happening are coming a lot quicker.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .