PITTSBURGH — Calvin Austin III put everyone on notice at training camp by making big play after big play, but he never got to hit the field after suffering a foot injury before Pittsburgh’s first preseason game.
Well then, he could maybe come back during the season, right? Not so fast. Austin suffered a setback at practice and it required season-ending foot surgery for a lisfranc injury. However, never two months out of surgery, Austin is looking forward to an offseason program that can allow him to hit the ground running into his second season.
“You know, everybody has really kept me involved and made me feel like I’m there,” Austin said. “My rehab is going well, and I’m excited for next year.”
In order to help Austin, Diontae Johnson has stepped up as a leader to help him prepare well for next season. So much so, that when Johnson gets ready to head back to Florida to train, he invited Austin to work out with him to show him the ropes. Calvin Austin intends to take Johnson up on the offer.
“Leaning on Diontae, he’s a guy who has had ups and downs in his career, so he can lead me if I have something,” Austin said. “With my setback and everything, he even invited me down to Florida to get some training in. The whole staff here, that I’m going to lean on this whole facility and organization to get me back.’
Austin is hoping to be a part of the equation at receiver next season. Pittsburgh could look to add to the receiver room in the upcoming draft, but Austin is in the right headspace to the point where he is ready to play at a high level and contribute. The health and confidence in his surgically repaired foot will come. But Austin has something no one else has in the room, and that is game-breaking speed.
“Yeah, as far as I know, I mean, this is my first offseason, so I don’t know how the schedule will fall and everything,” Austin said. “As far as my body feels right now, I think everything will go smoothly.”
With that in mind, Austin’s inclusion in the early parts of the program speaks well to his ability to make an impact on the team in the 2023 season. There will be an adjustment period as it will be essentially his first NFL season, but with his game-breaking attribute as his trump card, Austin could see himself getting into the lineup in 2023.
Alan Saunders contributed reporting from Pittsburgh