LATROBE, Pa. — Just two days into his first Steelers training camp, Justin Hunter is already walking a fine mental line.
On one side is the physical reality of his having been the offensive star of the first couple practices. He’s a favored Ben Roethlisberger target and leapt over two first-team defensive backs to score in the hotly contested opening period of Saturday’s practice, known as “seven shots.”
The other half of his reality reminds him that Martavis Bryant, Sammie Coates and second-round pick JuJu Smith-Schuster all play the position he’s nominally starting in right now. He is far from assured of a place on the 53-man roster.
Mike Tomlin has made this delicate balance clear.
“He’s done some good things, but we’ll keep it in perspective,” Hunter said. “We get a chance to play football tomorrow.”
Hunter came to the Steelers after in March being released by the Tennessee Titans, who drafted him in the second round, last year, then floating from the Miami Dolphins to the Buffalo Bills and back into free agency.
The Steelers hold their first practice in pads on Sunday. In the spring, Hunter, was often buried in Pittsburgh’s wideout pecking order.
He got reps in Antonio Brown’s “X” position as a backup while Bryant and others were preferred over him at what the Steelers call their “Z” receiver spot.
Hunter isn’t naive. He signed a one-year, $885,000 contract that includes a roster bonus of $50,000 and a signing bonus of all of $30,000 this offseason. The Steelers have more financial incentive to cut him than any of the drafted players he’s competing with — even the ones who aren’t on the field…
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