PITTSBURGH – David Gilreath has been here before.
No, not in Pittsburgh. Gilreath has been in this position before.
He’s taken advantage of an opportunity to make an NFL roster by playing an outstanding game.
In fact, last year in Indianapolis – competing with a deep corps of Colts wide receivers – Gilreath put together a string of three such games.
None as good as the one Gilreath turned in Sunday night for the Steelers against those Colts, “but I had played well in all phases last year. I mean really good – like a 45-yard punt return, I had a touchdown. I had a really good third game. The fourth game was a terrible game in my eyes. I jumped offside. I didn’t make a play on this deep ball. It was just too inconsistent to make the team.”
He also fumbled. So the Colts put Gilreath on their practice squad, and from there he bounced to the practice squads of the St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills before signing with the Steelers in January.
“I had a chance and I blew it,” Gilreath said. “And I keep it in the back of my mind. It keeps me motivated. It keeps me focused instead of listening to all the stuff that’s going on.”
“All the stuff that’s going on” is the Pittsburgh media declaring – and with good right – that Gilreath is the Steelers’ No. 5 wide receiver after his 4 catches for 78 yards Sunday night against the Colts.
The Steelers have virtually begged someone to step forward out of their group of wide receivers. Gilreath missed the first preseason game with a foot issue, but made a strong case with an outstanding showing in the second one.
“A decent showing,” Gilreath corrected. “I don’t think it was anything special though.”
Gilreath did catch a 41-yard bomb after a flag had been thrown for offsides.
“I did something I was supposed to do,” Gilreath reasoned.
And he did break tackles to convert two 3rd-and-5s. And he gained 24 on 3rd-and-16. All four of his catches converted third downs on the way to critical field goals in a come-from-behind win.
“Yeah, they were good efforts, things that I did pretty well,” Gilreath said. “I know I showed it through camp but I’ve just got to do it the next couple of games. I had three really good games last year. That was three good games. This is one.”
The 5-11, 169-pound speedster who’s ranked third all-time at Wisconsin with 5,265 all-purpose yards needs to keep catching the ball, throw some blocks, and maybe pop a return and a roster spot with the Steelers should be his.
“They say your film is your living resume, and if they looked back at my film last year I was going off,” Gilreath said of his return skills. “Hopefully they give me a chance. If not, hopefully I show enough that I can contribute in other ways.”
“Hey, I come from Wisconsin,” he said. “That’s all we do is run the ball. I didn’t touch the ball, really, at Wisconsin. Your claim to fame was to block somebody.”
So Gilreath knows the terrain. He really has been here before.