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Playmaking Safety Looks to Make Big Impact for Steelers



Steelers S Trenton Thompson

PITTSBURGH — Steelers safety Trenton Thompson got the call on Saturday. For the first time with Pittsburgh, he will be coming off the practice squad and have a chance to show off his skills. It comes on the heels of Minkah Fitzpatrick being ruled out with a hamstring injury for the second straight week. Thompson will join Damontae Kazee, Keanu Neal, Elijah Riley, and Miles Killebrew on the active roster for the game. Pittsburgh hosted four safeties for workouts on Friday, but Thompson was the most experienced player.

To know who Thompson is, let’s return to the start of his tenure in Pittsburgh. Thompson came onto the Steelers’ radar after several safety injuries, allowing him to get signed and make plays. Thompson nabbed an interception during his first game in the preseason against the Buccaneers. He would make similar plays in practice, earning a boom-or-bust reputation, but he had a nose for the ball. Those plays gave him a lifeline and have allowed him to stick around on the practice squad.

So, when Thompson came into training camp, he could have quickly become one of those players who just came in for injury relief and left. But he played so well in practice that Pittsburgh shot him up the depth chart. By the end of the entire thing, he was running with the second team, and while he did not make the final roster, Thompson made a positive impression on the team.

Steelers safety Trenton Thompson

Steelers safeties Trenton Thompson and Keanu Neal at practice on Oct. 27, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Thompson is one of those safeties that feeds heavily off vibes. He makes plays and hits hard. That’s not something to be ashamed of, but he is a big culture guy that teammates embrace because he plays directly through his emotions. That player can be volatile, but he’s also an attentive player who wants to ball.

What Thompson Brings to the Team

Thompson, 25, is a 6-foot-1, 196-pound safety from San Diego State. He joined the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent after the 2022 NFL Draft and played one game as a rookie in 2022.

The Giants initially released Thompson at the outset of training camp and added him to the practice squad, but was promoted to the active roster on Nov. 23. He played 12 snaps, all on special teams, and then was released back to the practice squad. The NFL is not something that was smooth sailing for him.

But Thompson loves to do the dirty work that you better do if you are going to play in the box. He followed up his interception in the preseason throughout the game by sticking his nose in the mud. He is a classic strong safety who plays aggressively and enthusiastically in the running game. That type of mentality has led Thompson to where he is right now.

If he does play, Thompson could see time in Miles Killebrew’s role in three safety sets as an athletic player who can give some thump and splash. Again, his volatility is something Pittsburgh lives with because he makes plays. That’s the player who showed up in training camp and endeared himself to the team.

They may be just looking for some special teams help, too. Thompson might only see snaps in that area if that is the case. But if he does play, Thompson’s skill set is intriguing in that it is different than any other player they have in that safety room. The second-year man will have his audition to show what he can do against an athletic Packers offense where Pittsburgh will need that athleticism to match.