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Different role, same approach

Wide receiver Gunner Olszewski signed on with the Steelers as a former First-Team All-Pro punt returner.

Now, he blocks.

Olszewski is attacking his new assignment willingly, as he does whatever else he's asked to do from week to week.

"It's nothing I've done before but I'm putting my best foot forward," Olszewski said of trying to clear paths for wide receiver Steven Sims on kickoff returns. "We're getting stuff going and I'm excited to be out there and help him any way that I can.

"Someone once told me that's what mental toughness is, doing what's best for the team when everything ain't best for you. That's the approach that I've been taking."

Olszewski also got a block on Colts cornerback Tony Brown after lining up in the left slot on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line on what became running back Benny Snell Jr.'s run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Monday night's 24-17 win in Indianapolis.

Olszewski's effort on Brown was highlighted by ESPN analyst Troy Aikman during an overhead replay of what Aikman maintained ended up becoming a "pretty easy walk-in" for Snell.

Olszewski celebrated as if he'd scored himself.

"Touchdowns are fun, it don't matter who gets in the box, man," Olszewski maintained. "That was cool, and that was the go-ahead score. And Benny getting the opportunity, he hadn't had much opportunities this year so I think the whole team was pulling for him. There was never a doubt in my mind he's putting the ball through that end zone.

"They called Bennie's number, no surprise there, he was hot all night. So I was just doing what I can to help him get in the end zone."

Olszewski, a 6-foot, 190-pound native of Alvin, Texas, arrived in veteran free agency as a three-year pro who had led the league in punt returns for New England in 2020 (Olszewski's All-Pro season).

He was the punt and kickoff returner when the season began on Sept. 11 in Cincinnati.

But Sims was eventually assigned both of those duties.

Olszewski lined up opposite Snell as the last line of protection in front of Sims on the kickoff return team in Indianapolis.

Olszewski also played 21 snaps on offense against the Colts (30 percent). He wasn't targeted but he ran the ball once for 9 yards.

He has three catches for 43 yards on the season and has even been a gunner on the punt team on occasion.

And he's as exited to be with the Steelers as when he first got here.

"I love being on this team," Olszewski emphasized. "I love whatever role I got. It's professional football so at the end of the day you're trying to win games. There's 'dawgs' all over the place, and sometimes you want a certain role but the role is given to someone else and they bump you somewhere else and you just try to do what you can to help the team win.

"Maybe that's a learned thing but that's something I think I've always had. So it's pretty easy for me to just adjust and play ball."