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Calvin Austin III Hopes to Take Leap in 2024

The Pittsburgh Steelers hope to see growth and a leap out of third-year wide receiver Calvin Austin III in what is a pivotal year.



Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III at the team's OTAs, May 21, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — To put it bluntly, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver room is a mishmash of players that often have far too overlapping skill sets. While George Pickens and Roman Wilson have cemented themselves as part of the rotation in some manner, third-year wide receiver Calvin Austin III is someone the team needs this season.

Austin came in excited out of Memphis, but a Lisfranc injury in his rookie season derailed that hype. His second season he brought growing pains and flashes of immense talent. In other words, Austin has the tools, but he needs to put those all together. Austin is feeling the energy once again this season, with Russell Wilson and new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith providing some of that juice for the young speedster.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III at the team’s OTAs, May 21, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“With Russ as a leader, he’s going to make sure we’re all on the same page,” Austin said. “Coach [Arthur] Smith is a great communicator, so we all know what our job is. So you can definitely feel the culture and the energy behind it.”

So, the obvious question is, what did Austin improve upon this offseason? While Austin wants to accentuate his elusiveness in the punt return game, as a wide receiver, he believes the snap down on his routes will be what allows him to take another leap. Without that, Austin struggled to create separation a season ago, but, in his words, ‘knows’ that he made an advancement there.

“From the return aspect of it, I was very disappointed in the production there from myself,” Austin said. “I focused heavily on that. And as far as on-route techniques, it was all on the snap down. I was looking to improve upon that, and it’s something I know I improved upon.”

Now, it will be up to Calvin Austin III to make that change, but with his excellent speed, Austin has the opportunity to echo some of the similar roles that Smith’s receivers have taken up in the past. Someone like Kalif Raymond, for example, turned out as a three-to-four target guy every game just on the deep balls.

There is no secret in the locker room that Wilson and Justin Fields heavily rely upon their deep balls. Austin can carve out a significant role as a downfield threat. The snap on his routes, specifically on comebacks, curls, and other routes, can cause cornerbacks to respect Austin as a three-level threat. If that occurs, his deep speed will become even more critical as a big-play creator in the Steelers offense.