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Steelers WR Calvin Austin III eager to ‘come back different’ in 2024

Season number two was significant for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III. It wasn’t the second-year leap as it is for most players coming off their rookie season. Instead, it was about proving himself for the first time.

The speedy receiver out of Memphis sustained a foot injury in his first pro training camp, and he was sidelined for the season.

While he couldn’t play, Austin remained in Pittsburgh and soaked up everything he could mentally in team meetings and from the sideline.

“My rookie year I didn’t play but was in some meetings and stuff early in the season,” Austin told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “I was able to get the routine down. That way, coming into the 2023 season, I was already understanding things and familiar with the environment, everything from the game prep to the crowd, even Sunday Night Football. To get to experience that was huge.”

While there were high hopes for Austin’s first year on the field, it left much to be desired. He was utilized sparingly in the passing game, with just 17 receptions on 30 targets for 180 yards and a touchdown. He pitched in 57 rushing yards on 11 attempts and another score.

“I didn’t reach some of the goals I set out for myself at the start of the year. But I learned a lot.”

Heading into year three, he’s hoping to make that leap that’s expected out of young players. Perhaps his first year was a product of the insufferable play-calling from now-unemployed offensive coordinator Matt Canada. It certainly would be wise of his successor, the newly-anointed Arthur Smith, to incorporate him more — take advantage of that blazing 4.32 40-time he displayed at the 2022 NFL scouting combine.

“It excites me this offseason,” said Austin. “I have a plan and know I want to come back different. I want to be counted on as a guy. That is where my mindset is. I know the things I need to do, the changes I need to make. Especially after playing a season. I have it all lined up and I think I will be able to reach those goals.”

The Steelers will unveil their new offensive identity in 2024. Though it’ll probably roll out slowly, as they tend to do, the process should be exciting to watch. And Calvin Austin is eager to play his role in it.

Story originally appeared on Steelers Wire