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Russell Wilson Taking His Chance with Steelers in Stride

Russell Wilson is making changes and looking to take his opportunity with the Pittsburgh Steelers in stride. But it’s up to him.



Russell Wilson Steelers Quarterback

Russell Wilson is in ‘pole position,’ as Mike Tomlin would say, on the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback depth chart. But that does not mean that he will be guaranteed the starting job. Still, by drafting three offensive linemen and a wide receiver, the front office is helping Wilson surround himself with a quality group.

Wilson had a bad rap in Denver and Seattle for lacking leadership and not being a good teammate. Nothing of such has been showcased in Pittsburgh so far, however.

Wilson sat next to Steelers offensive lineman Spencer Anderson at the Penguins game a few weeks ago. Anderson was a seventh-round pick out of Maryland last year and is not a marquee name on the roster. That action by Wilson is a far cry from the reports out of Denver that he was out of touch and didn’t relate with anyone in the locker room.

Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth also praised Wilson for organizing an offseason workout in San Diego. Freiermuth, Calvin Austin III, and Van Jefferson attended the workout.

“That was big time,” Freiermuth told Teresa Varley of “He invited us to San Diego and a couple of us went there and got to work out and run routes and get to know each other. That’s big. The relationship on the field is big but building that off field is a big thing. It’s that trust you can bring over to the football field.”

Wilson tweeted at every Steelers draft pick and called first-round selection Troy Fautanu. His and the early comments from players in the locker room show leadership in the quarterback room. That’s a good first step to everything working, but it is up to Russell Wilson to make those changes happen on the field. He played well on the stat sheet for Denver, but the tape reveals too many missed opportunities and an erratic passer in the pocket that took too many sacks.

But off the field, he is showing traits necessary to be the team’s answer at quarterback. In conversations with several sources close to the Broncos and former teammates of Wilson’s, no one was willing to offer a cogent criticism of the behavior of the 35-year-old quarterback.

“All of that is overblown,” one Broncos source told Steelers Now. “He’s a great guy and great in the locker room.”

Another league source said that while Payton and Wilson’s personalities were “oil and water,” it was more of a bad fit than any specific fault of one or the other. A player who had been a younger teammate of Wilson’s in Seattle credited his leadership and mentorship during his time there.

Obviously, that is only the start of it for Wilson. But Russell Wilson has gone to the mountain top before in the NFL, and even a late-career version of him should give the Steelers an upgrade over what they had last season. It’s up to him to play well this season and power the team in the tough AFC North.