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Veteran Steelers CB Could Surprise at Training Camp




Each year there is at least one or two guys that sneak up during Steelers training camp; but usually those guys are not veterans who come out of nowhere. But one cornerback whose made his mark in limited snaps with the team could surprise some and make an impact with a strong camp.

James Pierre was the team’s training camp standout in 2020. An undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic, he stormed onto the scene, flashing both in practice and making plays on special teams. It allowed him to craft out a role that he’s had now for the better part of three seasons. But with an overhaul in the room coming in, Pierre has to compete.

Yet, when called upon last year, to say he was impressive would be an understatement. Pierre allowed just 13 completions on 31 targets, good enough for only a 41.9% completion percentage. He was one of only nine cornerbacks to be tested more than 30 times but allow a sub-50% completion percentage on the season. One of the other players was former Steelers cornerback Cam Sutton, but Pierre making the list is impressive.

Now a veteran, Pierre must step into a leadership role while still fighting for a role on the field against talented rookies Joey Porter Jr, and Cory Trice. That’s a hard balancing act, but he’s up for the challenge and making himself an open book for those rookies anyways.

“When I came in, the older guys took care of me,” Pierre said. “That’s just the right thing to do — just take care of them. That’s the organization, the Brotherhood of Steelers. Everybody takes care of each other. We’re stronger together.”

That’s the right mentality. Though, one way that Pierre won’t be able to differentiate himself — probably for the first time in his career — is his size. Pierre is listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. Porter is 6-foot-2, 194 pounds and Trice is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, leading Mike Tomlin to call them “Avatar cornerbacks.

Still, he fits what the team likes and has strokes of high level play. But Pierre needs to find a level of consistency before the Steelers can truly rely upon him as a guy with a carved out role in the defense.

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