Tre Norwood made a name for himself coming out of Oklahoma as a player that can find the football.
The Steelers’ seventh round draft pick from the 2021 NFL Draft had to earn his starting job back as a senior with the Sooners in 2020, after having missed 2019 with an injury. After he did, Norwood grabbed five interceptions over the seasons’ final six games to end up as the Big 12 co-leader and tied for third nationally in passes pilfered.
So his big takeaway from his big chance in the Steelers’ fourth preseason game of 2021 on Friday was when he had a chance at an interception, he couldn’t come up with it. Sam Darnold’s throw on a third down late in the second quarter went basically straight to Norwood instead of the intended receiver. It hit him square in the hands, but he couldn’t hold on for the pick.
The Steelers got the defense off the field, but Norwood knows making those kinds of plays can be the difference between getting another opportunity and not at the NFL level.
“That’s one that I definitely should’ve had,” he said. “I’ve gotta make it up for sure.”
Norwood played in the slot on Friday in Carolina, replacing injured regulars Antoine Brooks Jr. and Arthur Maulet. He had spent almost all of training camp working behind Minkah Fitzpatrick at free safety before the final week, but thinks getting thrown into the fire against Carolina’s starters had a positive outcome.
“It went well, my first time this entire preseason,” Norwood said. “It felt good to be on the inside getting some action, getting to do it in a live game. We did it in practice this week but being able to get out there, doing it in a live game, I felt comfortable with it. It’s something that I like to do.”
Norwood played slot, outside and safety at Oklahoma and hopes to be able to do the same thing for the Steelers. The coaching staff, including head coach Mike Tomlin, expressed his confidence in Norwood’s ability to pick up multiple positions quickly, and that’s why he was given the chance against the Panthers.
“Learning, that’s the biggest thing with the preseason and camp, learning and taking those steps and getting better each and every day and each and every rep,” Norwood said. “I felt like I did that.”
The next step will be securing a spot on the 53-man roster, never an easy feat for a seventh-round draft pick. But Norwood’s status as the only player that has spent meaningful time backing up Fitzpatrick and an option to play in the slot has him on an inside track on a roster spot ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.
In the meantime, he’ll be thinking about that interception.