Nick Vannett ’80-90%’ comfortable with Steelers offense heading into his debut
Nick Vannett’s first week with the Pittsburgh Steelers resembled the final week of each semester he spent at Ohio State.
“I felt like I waited last minute to study for final exams,” Vannett said Saturday, “and here I am trying to cram everything together and try to get a good, solid grade on it.”
Vannett concluded his third and final day of practice this week with his new team before the Steelers play the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night at Heinz Field.
His comfort level within the Steelers offense has increased exponentially since his arrival Thursday from the Seattle Seahawks.
“I feel like I’ve definitely made some progress,” Vannett said. “I’m able to be in the huddle, hear the play call, line up right. For the most part, I know what my assignment is. There are a few plays that confuse me a little bit, but I feel like I’m 80-90% comfortable with the offense and the game play.
“I’ll make sure the next two days I’ll continue to prepare and be 100% and confident out there.”
Vannett was acquired in the wake of injuries to Vance McDonald and Xavier Grimble, the top two tight ends on the Steelers roster. Grimble landed on injured reserve, and McDonald missed a third day of practice Saturday as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
Vannett or rookie fifth-rounder Zach Gentry will start if McDonald sits against the Bengals. Vannett, who is in his fourth season, has the decided edge in NFL experience. Gentry played 10 snaps last week in his first action with the Steelers.
“That’s what I’m expecting,” Vannett said when asked if he will play a lot against Cincinnati. “I think that’s why I got so many reps this week. I’m not sure what Vance’s deal is, but if he doesn’t play, I’m expected to play a good amount. It’s good I got the reps this week so I feel comfortable with the plays and can replicate it in the game.”
Vannett said he will play the “Y” – or inline tight end spot – with Gentry moving around the formation when two tight ends are on the field.
“They wanted to make it simple for me,” Vannett said. “Down the road, once I get more comfortable, they will expand my role a little bit. They want me to focus on one now rather than learn the whole concept.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .