The Steelers’ signing of John Gilmore and interest in Reggie Kelly during training camp gave the appearance that they were searching for a No. 2 tight end behind Heath Miller.
Apparently that is not the case.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Wednesday that David Johnson has already locked up the spot even though he appears suited more for an H-back role than tight end.
“He’s a quality blocker on the line of scrimmage and in the backfield,” Arians said of the third-year player. “He’s proven as a receiver. I have all of the confidence in him blocking whoever he’s got to block.”
Arians said Miller and the 6-2, 260-pound Johnson are interchangeable, with one playing tight end in some packages and H-back in others. The loss of Matt Spaeth -– he signed with the Bears as an unrestricted free agent –- did leave an opening that the Steelers have yet to fill.
Gilmore, a 10th-year NFL veteran, rookie Weslye Saunders and Jamie McCoy, who is listed as a tight end and fullback on the Steelers’ roster, are vying for the job of No. 3 tight end.
Gilmore probably has an edge because of his experience, especially when it comes to Saunders.
The 6-5, 270-pound Saunders signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent and didn’t play his senior season at South Carolina after lying about improper dealings with agents.
“He’s gotten better each day,” Arians said of Saunders. “He really suffered because of the missed practice time because it was a change of offense for him, basically being a wide receiver (at South Carolina). But I’ve been real pleased with his effort blocking and he’s got a nice future.”
– Scott Brown