Xavier Grimble wasn’t necessarily worried he might be a casualty during cutdown day this past weekend. But that didn’t mean the veteran tight end wasn’t keenly aware — too much so, for his liking — of what might have happened as the Pittsburgh Steelers set their 53-man roster.
“I mean, man, c’mon,” Grimble said Monday from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, “ain’t no way you’re not going to think about it. I say (to block it out) just to mentally put yourself in that perspective the best you can to quiet it out because it will drive you nuts, trust me. I have sat in motels all day, looking at the phone, don’t want to look at it, looking online, looking at it, not looking at it…”
The 72 hours or so after the Steelers’ preseason ended were anxious ones for Grimble and fellow Steelers tight ends such as Zach Gentry and Kevin Rader. it was possible the Steelers would supplement their tight ends corps by adding a veteran via the trade market or waivers.
The #Steelers always have dressed three tight ends and many times use subpackages that utilize all three.
With Jesse James gone and Xavier Grimble playing a bigger role, where are they turning next?https://t.co/E2jBJBrWgF
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) July 10, 2019
But the regular season begins Sunday at New England, and the tight end depth chart reads: Vance McDonald, Grimble, Gentry.
Grimble said the three of them and Rader (who made the practice squad) did the best they could to avoid speculation.
“Like I tell the young guys, ‘Stay off the media, shut out the noise, focus on getting better and let’s push each other. Let’s be accountable to each other, and let’s be the best we can be,’ ” Grimble said. “That’s all we can control. What (outsiders) say, what the coaches do upstairs, that’s gonna be on them.”
The Steelers’ decision not to add a tight end reflects positively on Grimble, who for the first time becomes a legitimate No. 2. McDonald is the clear No. 1, and Gentry probably has a role at the bottom of the depth chart as a rookie.
It was almost two years ago as the preseason wound down that coach Mike Tomlin said tight ends “haven’t been consistently varsity enough.” Within 24 hours of that statement, the Steelers traded for McDonald to prop up a group of Jesse James, Grimble and David Johnson.
This year, there was no such maneuvering. Grimble wants to prove that was the right choice.