Samuels Preps For Next Challenge

Rookie RB impressed his teammates, now onto the Saints

Jeff Hathhorn
December 19, 2018 - 11:03 am

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – After career highs in nearly every category, Jaylen Samuels could be asked to follow it up on the road, in the Superdome, against the best rush defense in the NFL.

Mike Tomlin credited their speed among other attributes, as the Saints have allowed 79.1 yards a game on the ground, only seven runs of 20-plus yards with a season-long allowed of 28 yards.

So what stuck out about the game Samuels had against New England.

“I thought he showed good patience,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.  “I thought when it was there he hit it hard.  He protected the ball and those are things that you want from a guy that isn’t used to carrying it as much as he’s going to have to, or did.”

“He just has good vision,” said center Maurkice Pouncey.  “Some of the plays were outside zone plays and he just cut in back behind either the center of left guard or the right guard, whichever we had going.  He had a great day out of the backfield.”

“Jaylen running hard, it’s pretty cool to see a rookie like that get in a groove,” said guard David DeCastro.  “A couple of games in, he’s starting to get a handle of it.  Any time you get a couple of more runs under your belt, a couple more games,  you can tell, he was pretty comfortable back there.  He was really hitting the holes hard for some big yards.”

“I got back there, stayed relaxed and once I saw a hole, I just tried to burst through it and make a play,” Samuels said.  “Make somebody miss and get north for as many yards as I can.”

And it’s not often a tailback is learning how to run the football at the NFL level, but that’s where the rookie from North Carolina State is.

“Just gettin’ on the blocks, reading the blocks, setting the defenders up as well, that’s the main thing I’m trying to work on my game as a runner, transitioning to a true runner, just being able to set up the blocks,” Samuels said.  “I was making some impressive runs.”

The rookie spent more time in his career, ever since high school, blocking or catching passes than running the ball, that versatility is something that should benefit this Steelers offense.  It showed when he got into the flat for a crucial third down catch in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

“One of the first things we noticed about him is he has really good hands, soft hands, you can throw it all over the place and he can make plays,” Roethlisberger said.  “He showed that this week that we can put him out there and do some things with him that hopefully we’re just scratching the surface with.”

“Given an opportunity, he took advantage of it,” DeCastro said.  “They said some good stuff about him early in the year.  I’m happy for him, it’s good.  It just gives more time for Conner to get back.”

When, or even if, Conner returns is a question, the Pro Bowl tailback will attempt to go through practices this week as he deals with an ankle injury.  Meanwhile, Samuels just goes about his business, doing what many skill position players coming out of college don’t do.  He just shuts up and plays.

“He works hard,” said guard Ramon Foster.  “He doesn’t say much he just goes about his business.”

“I haven’t heard him say a word all year, so I like that from a rookie,” DeCastro said.  “Getting comfortable and making plays, that why you draft guys and they show up.”

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