Steelers 2-a-days: Vance McDonald poised for breakout? Patrick Morris part of team’s plans?
Editor’s note: From now until the first practice of training camp at Saint Vincent, the Trib will run through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90-man roster, assessing each player’s outlook for the season. The breakdown will go through the roster in mostly alphabetical order, (at least) two per day, between June 14 and July 26.
TE VANCE McDONALD
Experience: 7th season
Contract status: $5.78 million cap hit in 2019, signed through 2021
2019 outlook: If there was any doubt remaining, with Jesse James’ departure to Detroit, McDonald is the Steelers’ unquestioned No. 1 tight end. After career highs in games played (15), catches (50), receiving yards (610) and touchdowns (four) last season, McDonald is clearly one of the Steelers’ best receiving targets. Particularly in the first season post-Antonio Brown, McDonald could be primed for even more production in 2019 — if he can stay healthy. McDonald missed an average of 4½ games per season until last year. He’s a favorite of Ben Roethlisberger, a reliable blocker and has all the physical tools. If he stays on the field, McDonald could be the Pro Bowl conversation in 2019.
Happy birthday Vance McDonald who damn near committed crime on the field last season. pic.twitter.com/2PAkMSI0Nq
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) June 13, 2019
C PATRICK MORRIS
Experience: Spent all of last season on practice squad as undrafted rookie
Contract status: $495,000 cap hit in 2019, under contractual control for four accrued seasons
2019 outlook: One of the top centers in the country his final two seasons at TCU, Morris was one of the marquee signings the Steelers made in the hours after the 2018 draft. They appropriately kept him on their practice squad all through his rookie season. He heads into this camp as No. 3 on the depth chart at center, and with backup B.J. Finney scheduled for unrestricted free agency, Morris might have a future with the team. But after the spring signing of former Alabama and Alliance of American Football center J.C. Hassenauer, Morris has a practice-squad spot to defend in 2019 before 2020 is a consideration.
Patrick Morris (#58) is going to cause fits for second and third level defenders in the NFL. As you can see here, his rare athleticism allows him to defeat opposing defenders before they can diagnose the play. #ATFam #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/AUCcCBFjdc
— Athletes Trust (@TrustAthletes) April 4, 2018
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .