Rookie tight end Zach Gentry readily acknowledges he entered the NFL with a reputation for potential as an athletic pass-catcher that needed to work on his blocking.
But during his first extensive action as a pro, the Pittsburgh Steelers did not shy away from showcasing his blocking skills.
Gentry played significant snaps in the Steelers’ 27-3 win against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. He was not targeted with a throw — but he did provide some quality blocks, including during a Jaylen Samuels touchdown run during the third quarter.
“Obviously, I am still a work in progress as far as that goes,” Gentry said of blocking. “But I feel like over the last two weeks I have taken some big steps and gotten better overall. I feel like I made some pretty good blocks (Monday). I feel there are some things I’ll see to work on on the tape, but I feel pretty good.”
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Although in reality they had scant options because of the injuries to Vance McDonald and Xavier Grimble heading into a week when the newly-acquired Nick Vannett would serve as the No. 1 tight end, the Steelers did not shy away from using Gentry as a blocker.
For example, in their wildcat package, it was Gentry — and not Vannett — who was on the field. This is in part a function of the Steelers’ preference to keep things vanilla for Vannett during his first week of practice, but it also was a tacit acknowledgment that Gentry could handle the job as a blocker.
A fifth-round pick who was inactive for the first two games of the season, Gentry played 10 snaps in his NFL debut Week 3 at San Francisco.
“I felt comfortable,” Gentry said of the Bengals game. “I thought I played pretty well, and in for a lot of blocking. And I think I did that well; we will see on the tape (Tuesday).”