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Big Play Wide Receiver Makes Noise at Steelers Training Camp



Steelers WR Hakeem Butler

UNITY TWP., Pa — The newest standout at Steelers training camp is a guy that has received plenty of hype after his season in the XFL, and that is wide receiver Hakeem Butler. The 6-foot-5 wide receiver is an NFL anomaly, but Butler is a player who stood out in an explosive way on Saturday.

The two plays that stood out were both in contested catch situations. Mitch Trubisky looked for Butler on a go route on the first one but underthrew the ball to the inside. It traveled about 35 air yards. Luq Barcoo nearly had an interception but instead of simply admitting he was not going to catch the ball, Butler fought through his hands and pulled the ball out for an impressive catch and touchdown.

The Steelers saw a similar play later. On the final play of the day, Butler ran an out-and-up double move against Madre Harper. Harper never bit on the move but Mason Rudolph targeted Butler to his back shoulder on a nice throw. Butler did a great job of skying over Harper and boxing him out from having any chance of making the play. That big play element is what drew the Steelers to Butler in the first place.

“We were interested in his big playability when he came out of Iowa State a number of years ago,” Mike Tomlin said about Butler. “It was a guy with somewhat of a short football resume, more of a basketball guy growing up and we saw upside in that. He was a big time one on one playmaker. You know, we’ve kind of followed him and tracked him. He did similar things in the spring league this year, and we had an opportunity to sign him. Time will tell in terms of the rep span. People are working where they are working right now but we’re still acclimating. We’re not overreacting to things that are transparent out there at this point and changing groups and things of that nature. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to show his capabilities.”

Butler is a guy who nearly gave up on his NFL dream before the XFL revived it. Now, he’s fighting for the opportunity to stick in the league with the Steelers. If he can continue to make plays as a big play specialist and show out on special teams, Butler has a chance to make it.

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