When no one is counting on you to even make a NFL roster, you can play loose and without hesitation. This is exactly what Roosevelt Nix did when he entered the Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Training Camp as an undrafted free agent. Most didn't think Nix would make the team, and if he did, it would most likely be as a pure special teams player. After all, the team had Will Johnson on the roster to be the H-back used in Todd Haley's offense.
However, it didn't take long for Nix to make his mark, not just in the preseason, but when the games mattered after he made the 53-man roster his first season. Nix was the man leading the way for DeAngelo Williams during Le'Veon Bell's absence, and his play could make the Steelers re-evaluate their running philosophy moving forward.
Whether they change their philosophy and use a more traditional fullback has yet to be seen, but one thing is certain, and that is Nix's progress will likely lead to Johnson's demise. Johnson signed a one-year free agent tender before the 2015 season, and with Nix signing a new deal with the team heading into 2016, Johnson will likely be able to test free agency when the new league year begins.
One of the biggest reasons Johnson is now expendable is Nix's tremendous play on special teams. Nix was one of the players who would break up return schemes on kicking team duties, and forced a crucial fumble against the Oakland Raiders this season at Heinz Field.
For as great as Nix was in goal line situations, in the standard offense and on special teams, plenty will be uncertain moving into the next season. First, with Le'Veon Bell in the lineup the Steelers rarely use a full back. Bell is a patient runner who prefers to watch his blocks unfold in front of him before hitting the hole. DeAngelo Williams is the opposite style of runner. With great cut back ability, Williams like to follow his blockers and hit the hole early, rather than waiting for something to develop.
One style isn't necessarily better than the other, but the team deployed Nix with more regularity when Bell wasn't in the lineup, compared to when he was. If Nix could learn the H-back role, he would help his case to see more playing time in 2016, especially if he can act as a second or third tight end with in-line blocking.
A lot still to be determined with the young full back, but the Steelers seem to have found yet another diamond in the rough with this hard-nosed player who is making plays early in his career in a multitude of ways.