5 players rapidly trending up at Steelers training camp

Zach Gentry #81 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Zach Gentry #81 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback James Pierre (42). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

CB James Pierre

Despite playing just 27 regular-season snaps for the Steelers in his first year in 2020, according to Pro Football Reference, James Pierre is a player who already drew quite a bit of buzz this offseason. Though he is still very much unproven, fans liked what they saw late in the season from him last year, and many predicted that he would be the next man up at outside cornerback. So far, I’d have to say I’d agree.

Between Pierre and Justin Layne right now, it really isn’t close. Pierre has been much more consistent during training camp practices and has given Pittsburgh’s top receivers fits at times. While I would like to see a few more splash plays out of Pierre, the former undrafted rookie out of Florida Atlantic is playing as well as anyone could have expected him to early in training camp.

As far as boundary cornerbacks go, I’d say Pierre is clearly above anyone not named Joe Haden or Cameron Sutton at the moment. However, his biggest competition could actually be Antoine Brooks. Though Brooks, a former strong safety at Maryland, plays inside the formation as a nickel cornerback, Pittsburgh could decide to use more packages that include him rather than kicking Sutton inside and playing Pierre as the right cornerback.

Pierre will have a chance to make the Steelers think otherwise, however. If he can continue to impress during team drills and into the preseason, Pittsburgh is going to try to find a way to use him this year.