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Calvin Austin III Gives Steelers WRs Coach Zach Azzanni a Ringing Endorsement



Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III

PITTSBURGH — Accountability was a major issue with the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers last season, as mental lapses with Diontae Johnson and George Pickens were a common theme.

Johnson and Pickens each had an instance last season where they flat-out quit on a play. That kind of stuff won’t fly with new wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni.

“He don’t play that. He’s that coach that you know, mediocrity and him don’t really mesh,” Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III said about Azzanni’s coaching style at OTAs this past week. “So if you’re going to try to just come in and cruise on through, nah, you can’t, that ain’t gonna happen. It’s gonna be a clash because he’s gonna get the best out of you.”

Calvin Austin III said Azzanni reminds him of his former head coach at Memphis Mike Norvell, who wanted perfection every single day. That kind of presence in the wide receivers room is much-needed. The intentional to details, things such as lining up properly, not jumping offsides and playing through the whistle was something that was lacking under former wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson.

Steelers WR Calvin Austin III

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III (19) runs for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Azzanni has a reputation of being a hard-nosed wide receivers coach. He loves to harp on blocking from his receivers. He wants that type of toughness and effort from his guys throughout the game. Outside of that, he focuses heavily on play at the line of scrimmage. Finding a press conference without him mentioning releases and defeating press coverage was tough.

Austin is not the only Steelers wide receiver to give high praise to Azzanni this offseason, as rookie Roman Wilson expressed similar a statement.

“Great guy, great coach,” Wilson said at rookie minicamp. “[He’s] giving me a lot of details, helping me with my route details and understanding football. He’s just a great guy. I really mess with him.”

Wilson also added that Azzani takes no bullshit.

“I wouldn’t say there’s like a vibe that comes off to him. He’s just really serious, but also casual at the same time and kind of just like, takes no bullshit,” he said.

Nick Farabaugh contributed reporting from Pittsburgh.