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2023 Steelers Training Camp Preview - Jordan Byrd, The Dynamic Returner

Photo: Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers

The number 2,020 represents the amount of kick return yards Pittsburgh Steelers UDFA Jordan Byrd accumulated during his college career at San Diego State.

With Steven Sims now a member of the Houston Texans, the Steelers are in need of a reliable kick returner this upcoming season. Considering current receiver Gunner Olszewski could not adequately fulfill these duties, the Steelers are likely to look at two players for this role: second-year receiver Calvin Austin III and Byrd.

In 2022, Byrd established himself as one of the most efficient kick returners in the nation, averaging 25.3 yards per return. He also became the first FBS player to have at least one rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown, kick return touchdown, and punt return touchdown in the same season.

Byrd's diverse skillset makes him the type of Swiss army knife that can be used in a variety of ways. What should be noted is that the team have had players of this ilk in the past that did not pan out. Such an example was Jaylen Samuels, whom the Steelers took in the 5th round of the NFL Draft. Despite his many skills, none of them resulted in the type of production that benefited the team. Samuels would eventually be waived. 

For him, making an impression early in training camp will be key to asserting himself as a worthy candidate for the team's primary kick or punt returner. Even though many have automatically assumed Austin III will fill this role, Byrd's performance on the field could make the coaches look in his direction.

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