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Steelers Benching Gunner Olszewski? ‘Two is a Pattern’

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The Pittsburgh Steelers expected more from 2020 All-Pro special teams player Gunner Olszewski.

A lot more.

The Steelers signed Olszewski to a two-year contract during the 2022 offseason, and the expectation was, well, an All-Pro-caliber player.

Instead, Olszewski has been a non-factor in the return game. Actually, scratch that. He’s been a factor –- a negative one.

Through four games, Olszewski has fumbled twice on punt returns.

The first resulted in a short field for the Patriots –– and they capitalized with a touchdown, ultimately winning the game, 17-13, at Acrisure Stadium.

More recently, Olszewski coughed another one up during the Steelers’ 24-20 loss to the Jets.

It’s not a great start for him –– and the team is losing trust.

“Not very high to be quite honest with you, man,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said when asked about his comfort level with Olszewski on punt returns. “You can’t put two balls on the ground in four games and feel good about it. Two is a pattern in the National Football League. We say that often. We say that about runners and ball security.

“Whether there’s four games or eight games or 12 games, two in our business is a pattern. And so we got some work there this week and some decisions to make, and he’s gotta get us to a level of comfort, and we’ll look at some other options as well.”

Behind Olszewski on the Steelers’ depth chart at punt/kick returner is 25-year-old wide receiver Steven Sims.

If, as Tomlin notes, the Steelers are looking at some other options, Sims is likely the guy.

And there’s some flash to get excited about there, as Sims showed in the preseason for the Steelers:

During two seasons with the (now) Washington Commanders, Sims averaged 6.2 yards-per-return on 30 punts and 24.6 yards-per-return with one touchdown on 36 kickoffs.

 

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