Snapshot: Cameron Clear

Big, physical Steelers tight end has left behind all talk of moving to offensive tackle.

Heath Miller remains a threat and Matt Spaeth remains a blocking force and Jesse James is a big, young fifth-round project and Rob Blanchflower was drafted last year and spent the season on the practice squad.

No wonder Cameron Clear's name isn't mentioned among the Pittsburgh Steelers' tight end candidates.

Oh, but it was.

Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator, mentioned Clear the spring day that assistant coaches were allowed to talk to the media.

"In college you see a lot of the spread offenses," Haley was saying. "But at the same time I think there are enough teams like us that still value tight ends like Heath and Matt Spaeth, who can block and be an integral part of what you are doing -- like our free agent Cameron Clear. He has a big, good-looking body, and he had about (five) catches last year and wasn’t really on the field. It’s just what you value and what you think gives you the best chance to win. I think as long as we are all here, we will value a big tight end that can catch and block."

Clear is a big man with long arms who plays physically and by the end of the spring workout season he was in a very good mood.

"Call me Cam," he started.

He was asked first about his condor-like 82-inch wingspan.

"It's part of my athleticism, being long," he said. "It definitely helps playing tight end, getting blocks and making catches away from my body."

And the fact that Clear was still playing tight end at all had plenty to do with his good mood. In two seasons at Texas A&M, the 6-5 3/8, 277-pounder caught only nine passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. The big size and small production added up to one thing, it seemed, for Clear as he went into the draft: He'll be moving to offensive tackle.

That's what the Denver Broncos had in mind when they brought Clear in for a pre-draft visit. That's what the Green Bay Packers had in mind when they called him after the draft to sign him as a free agent.

"In Denver I was meeting with the tackles coach and I said, "Coach, I've never played tackle,'" Clear said. And he never wanted to play tackle, either. In fact, Texas A&M really wanted him to play tight end -- so much so that the Aggies attempted to change their offense prior to last season.

"At A&M we ran five wide, so we didn't really incorporate the tight end much," Clear said. "But before my senior year they went across the country to talk to other coaches. They went to Clemson. They went to the Saints. They went somewhere else to get tight end packages for me. We had 'em in. We ran a couple of 'em the first game but I sprained my ankle. So the whole package went out while I sat out. I came back and we were back to the five wides. It was that whole deal with playing time at A&M last year. And the year before we had Mike Evans and Johnny, so I was just filling in."

Johnny Manziel, of course, was Clear's quarterback his junior season. But, while Evans caught 82 passes, Clear caught only four. But Clear came out of it with a positive belief in Manziel.

"He's not like the media made him out to be," Clear said. "He's a pretty good guy. He's down to earth. He gets along with everybody. Maybe his focus is sometimes not where it needs to be, but he's not a bad person like the media tries to portray him to be."

Clear caught only four passes the following season as the talk of moving to tackle began to percolate.

Did the Steelers discuss that move during his pre-draft visit to Pittsburgh?

"Not at all," Clear said. "Coach (James) Daniel saw my tape from the NFLPA game and he saw me running routes 7 on 7. He saw how I moved, so I felt they knew what I could do at the tight end position if I had the opportunity. From meeting with all the teams and pre-draft visits, I felt this was probably the best fit for me."

And he still feels that way.

"Personally, I love this opportunity that I'm in, even better than college, simply because I have opportunities to showcase my talent and pretty much do what I like to do and have fun," Clear said. "Here I'm able to have fun and learn a lot from Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth. I couldn't have asked for anything better."

But, Clear was told, if only Heath didn't brag so much about himself.

"Do you think he brags a lot?" asked a confused Clear.

When his questioner began to laugh so did Clear.

"Yeah, he's a cool guy," Clear said. "Everybody here -- I feel like this is probably one of the most laidback but yet family-oriented programs, so all the vets brought us in under their wings. From that point it's been all teaching."

And Clear believes he's learning.

"I feel pretty good going into camp," he said. "I'm getting comfortable with the playbook. For me it's just playing with attention to detail and just playing fast."

For the physical Clear, who shields defenders from the ball like a power forward gathering a rebound, putting on the pads should only enhance his chances.

"Oh, yeah, I definitely think so," he said.

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