PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers ended minicamp and will take roughly a month hiatus before returning to the field for training camp (hopefully) at St. Vincent College.
Following Organized Team Activities, plenty of younger names stood out. From a group of undrafted cornerbacks to some depth pieces at running back, there was a long list of those who impressed at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
At Heinz Field, for minicamp, the impresses only got better. For the first time this summer, we saw the starters hit the field for a majority of the time. So, instead of watching players who hope to make the team, the standouts were players who are looking to earn a role this season.
And still, some who are just looking to make the team.
The talent was brighter, the competition was amped up and the energy was on full blast. In three days at minicamp, these are the ten names who stood out.
Antoine Brooks Jr., Defensive Back
Before minicamp, no one realized Brooks was an option at the slot. Now, he seems like one of the best options to replace Mike Hilton this season.
Brooks spent a large chunk of last season on the practice squad, but it doesn't mean he can make a jump in 2021. From the sound of defensive backs coach Teryl Austin and head coach Mike Tomlin, he's impressed quite a bit at camp.
"That's where he's worked and that's really where you looked at him coming out of Maryland. He was listed as a safety but he basically played a nickel-type position," Austin said. "He was very productive there. That's where he's been working and what he's doing, and he's still got a ways to go, but I think the progress is coming.
"It's really important that we did have an offseason this year. That'll allow him to have the opportunity to win the job in there."
James Pierre, Cornerback
The most impressive player at minicamp was Pierre, hands down. The undrafted corner is coming into his second year with an opportunity to play a major role, and he seems to be taking full advantage of it.
Day 2 was his best performance, intercepting Ben Roethlisberger twice during a two-minute drill.
At this point, Pierre is the team's best bet to be the third cornerback in the starting lineup. That likely means Cam Sutton bounces to the inside, but if it means the best lineup is on the field, it'll need to happen.
Tre Norwood, Defensive Back
It was apparent Norwood had Sutton-like potential heading into minicamp, but those skills have taken off since. The safety, nickelback Swiss Army Knife is sculpting out a role in this defense.
Much of how good Norwood is will be answered once pads come on and players are hitting again. He's a smaller guy on the field, but if he's capable of tackling NFL players, he's met all requirements, in my opinion.
This sixth-round pick is fun to watch. It could be too soon, but let's start talking about him being "the future."
Miles Killebrew, Safety
When Killebrew was signed this offseason, the expectation was to replace Jordan Dangerfield. That will happen, as Killebrew is a premiere special teamer.
He's also playing well at safety, though. The 28-year-old has some bulk to him, is quicker in coverage than expected and seems fluid on the field. It's a much more reliable depth piece than Dangerfield was in the secondary.
He and Norwood have seen plenty of time on the field this summer. An early sign things are going as planned for the offseason signing.
Arthur Maulet, Defensive Back
Maulet had some solid plays at minicamp, and after maybe under-impressing at OTAs, he looks more like the depth piece he was signed to be.
A veteran from New York, Maulet should have some decently high expectations heading into training camp. If anyone has a leg up in the slot corner competition, it should be the guy who's started 12 games throughout his career.
The group of younger players behind him are pushing hard for their opportunity. Maulet is doing enough to stay afloat, though.
Alex Highsmith, Linebacker
Replacing Bud Dupree is a challenge too big for most. For Highsmith, it's what needs to be done in order to make his NFL career everything he should be.
Highsmith came into camp 242-pounds. He looks like he's made the physical jump from year one to year two, and the extra meat on his bones should help him move tackles around a little easier this season.
The biggest thing that stands out is how much work he gets with T.J. Watt. If you're an edge rusher looking to make your way in this league, learning from a two-time Defensive Player of the Year finalist is pretty much the best thing you can do.
Don't sleep on Highsmith as a starter.
Jordan Berry, Punter
Everyone's talking about Pressley Harvin III and Berry hears it. Or at least it feels like he does.
There is nothing more exciting during Steelers camp this summer than the punting competition. The reactions veterans like Eric Ebron, Cam Heyward and Ben Roethlisberger have to two guys booting footballs down the field is hilarious, exhilarating and frankly, the best part of the day.
This competition is still wide open. Berry won minicamp.
Najee Harris, Running Back
Are you someone who's still doubting the Najee Harris pick? Stop.
Harris is clearly the best running back in Pittsburgh, is basically a wide receiver when he wants to be and has the confidence and charisma to be whoever he wants to be in this league. He's not always perfect on the field, but sometimes he is. And I mean perfect.
The Steelers have plenty of questions on this team, but running back is no longer one of them.
Anthony McFarland, Running Back
The pecking order at running back is still yet to be decided, but McFarland looks like he's made a pretty good jump from year one to year two.
Not having an offseason as a rookie certainly hurt him. He was underdeveloped coming out of Maryland but had a lot of potential that didn't get to flourish because of the lack of practice before the season.
This year, he's working with running backs coach Eddie Faulkner more, has veterans like Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels to lean on and much more time to work out the kinks before the season.
McFarland is someone who can shock a lot of people this season and be a valuable member of the Steelers' offense.
Pat Freiermuth, Tight End
Don't ask Eric Ebron what Pat's last name is. If you don't get the joke, you should go on Twitter more. If you don't have a Twitter, good for you.
Ebron wasn't at practice on Wednesday, which allowed Freiermuth to take a lot of snaps with Roethlisberger. He's never shied away from those first-team reps since hitting the field in Pittsburgh, and it's going to be valuable once the season rolls around.
"Pat's going to be good, man. Pat's going to be pretty good," Ebron said during minicamp. "It's hard to dictate what everyone looks like in shorts and helmets because everyone looks good, but I'm excited to see him grow as a tight end."
Growth is certainly a must for any rookie, but as they say, practice makes perfect.
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