Vance McDonald Ready to Compete

Steelers TE Looking for Healthier Season

Josh Rowntree
May 29, 2018 - 1:24 pm
Steelers TE Vance McDonald works out with fellow TE Jesse James

Josh Rowntree

A year ago, Steelers tight end Vance McDonald was in San Francisco, ready to begin his fifth season with the 49ers. 

But, in August, McDonald was dealt to Pittsburgh for a fifth-round pick.

Now, coming off an injury-plagued first year with the Steelers, McDonald is looking to embrace the competitive competiton at the tight end group.

"I’m just taking it day-by-day,” McDonald said after Tuesday’s OTA. "It’s nice just having a whole offseason to develop and take really good details on the plays and get to know the offense better.”

McDonald played ten regular season games last year, making only 14 catches for 188 yards. The scarcity of appearances were a result of ankle, back and shoulder injuries. 

"You don’t want to necessarily put a guy out there that hasn’t done it and been able to do it in practice,” he said. "Games matter and we only get 16 opportunities. Missing time last year was a big hitch.”

Since the trade went through during training camp, McDonald was unable to participate in the Steelers OTA sessions, which lay the ground work for chemistry between quarterbacks and pass catchers.

"It’s just little bitty nuisances,” McDonald said of OTAs. "You’re being able to work on things that you don’t necessarily have the time to do in a small work when when you’re in season."

In the Steelers playoff loss to Jacksonville, McDonald shined, making ten catches for 112 yards. His versatility in that game allowed him to flourish.

"Anywhere I can fit in,” he said of how he’s being used early on. "I like to think that I can play anywhere on the field, so it really just comes down to getting the reps right now, while I have time, and to build relationships with Ben (Roethlisberger) and go from there.

McDonald will battle with fourth-year pro Jesse James for the top tight end position but, if healthy, both will likely see the field quite a bit this year. 

Xavier Grimble and Jake McGee return as well. New additions to the tight end position include rookies Pharoah McKever of Florida International and Christian Scotland-Williamson, a former rugby player that has never played a down of football. 

"Call me bias, but I’ve just always had great tight end groups,” McDonald said. "They didn’t make a ton of roster moves at our position for a reason this offseason, so they believe in us. There’s going to be competition every day, like it always is. But it’s good. We’ve got a good group."


Hear McDonald's entire interview below.