This year's training camp was arguably the most unusual in Pittsburgh Steelers history. Yet despite not having any fans or preseason games, the Steelers managed to navigate through this year's camp during this COVID-19 pandemic.
In this year's camp, certain players rose to the occasion and put together impressive performances. We also learned that sometimes a change in positions, could change the fortunes of players who are looking to make the roster. From the 80 camp roster players, there were three players who gained the most either through circumstance or performance. These players took their own paths, but each reached their goal in making the 53-man active roster.
Wide Receiver Chase Claypool (rookie)
If one were to pick this year's training camp MVP, this rookie receiver would be the leading candidate. Since their first day in pads, Claypool dominated his teammates on defense with his athleticism, and spectacular catches. Veteran cornerback Joe Haden was very complimentary of his abilities, noting noting that he was 'a force' during camp. In essence, Claypool was the phemon everyone expected him to be, and perhaps a star in the making.
Safety/Linebacker Marcus Allen
Allen's status on the team was in limbo prior to this year's camp.Since being drafted by the Steelers in 2018, Allen failed to crack the active roster, even being waived last August before landing on the practice squad. As it turned out, Allen's skillset was unsuitable to play the safety position. In their practice on August 27th, Allen was given his first reps at linebacker, as suggested by head coach Mike Tomlin. As time when on, Allen acclimated to his new position, even earning praise from linebacker coach Jerry Olsavsky. In essence, the transition from safety to linebacker, attributed to Allen earning a roster spot, and breathed new life into his NFL career.
Cornerback James Pierre
Coming into this year's camp, Pierre was relatively unknown to everyone. In fact, his lone notable season with Florida Atlantic University, came in his senior year, when he registered three interceptions and seven passes defended. Perhaps the fact that he came in with no expectations, may have worked to his advantage. At one point, it seemed Pierre would register at least one splash play per session. In their practice on September 3rd, he registered an interception and contained running back Kerrith Whyte on special teams. In their August 26th session, he blanketed receiver James Washington and almost registered an interception in the process. From this year's undrafted free agents class, Pierre was the only one to make a strong case for the active roster and it was well deserved.