With veteran defensive end Brett Keisel now out for the season with a triceps injury, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to fill his spot on the 53 man roster by signing journeyman defensive end Clifton Geathers, who was most recently with the Washington Redskins. On Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin talked about the addition of Geathers, who was originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth-round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
“We know Clifton,” said Tomlin. “He’s been free and on the market before as an unrestricted free agent. We tripped him and pursued him in free agency. We like his body type, his experience in NFL football. We feel like he’s a guy that has the physical capabilities to help us.
“First, we got to get him up to speed, we got to teach him what to do and check his overall level of conditioning, and things like that. We wont hesitate to start that process, we already have. But in terms of forecasting what he’s capable of doing for us inside the stadium this weekend, we’ll see. That will be determined as we work.
Tomlin said Geathers could see some playing time as early as this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals depending on the status of nose tackle Steve McLendon, who is still trying to overcome a shoulder injury that has forced him to miss several games.
“That question will also be answered as we work throughout the course of the week and look at his ability to work, particularly in pads,” said Tomlin.
The Steelers normally only like to dress five defensive lineman for games, so we’ll have to watch what happens with McLendon as the week progresses. If McLendon can play, the Steelers might be wise to dress Geathers as a sixth defensive lineman just in case.
If Geathers does wind up playing Sunday against the Bengals, it most definitely would be in a reserve role at defensive end as rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt is now expected to see his playing time increase with Keisel now out for the season.
If McLendon is out once again, Cam Thomas would likely start in his place once again with rookie Daniel McCullers occasionally spelling him.
“I’ve been happy with his performance in spurts,” said Tomlin. “And obviously his contributions have been interrelated to the availability to those around him – our plan with Brett Keisel on a week to week basis. Sometimes Brett only played in sub package, sometimes Brett played situationally and Cam’s work generally mirrored that.
“Obviously with Brett out and Clifton being somewhat of an unknown, that challenges Cam Thomas, but also challenges Stephon Tuitt and we’ll take it to the grass and see those guys’ overall readiness and kind of let that be our guide. But make no mistake, a veteran player, who we acquired in free agency like Cam Thomas, when given a challenge and an opportunity, like a loss of a Brett Keisel, we’ll expect him to be prepared and give us an added contribution.”