The Pittsburgh Steelers headed into training camp so deep at the safety position—10-deep, to be exact—that when the first need at another position arose, it was there that the roster was trimmed. On the eve of training camp, the Steelers released Jordan Dangerfield in order to sign tackle Kelvin Palmer, a need that arose following the back surgery undergone by Mike Adams.
Since the start of camp, however, injuries have mounted at the last line of defense, to the point that Will Allen, whom Mike Tomlin was holding out of practice deliberately, and Alden Darby were running as the first-team safeties.
First down was Ross Ventrone, who suffered a lower leg injury after getting rolled up on during an incomplete pass. Starter Mike Mitchell is mounting a return from a hamstring injury, while his running partner, Shamarko Thomas, is working his way back from a shoulder injury suffered from trying to tackle a 270-pound tight end.
Robert Golden went down in an expletive-laden heap last week in practice. While the extent of his injury proved to be far less significant than initially feared, he will be missing a healthy chunk of practice time this week, and perhaps longer.
The cherry on top proved to be Isaiah Lewis, a first-year player who missed a few days of practice in a row. With the desperate need for bodies at a previously deep position, the Steelers waived Lewis, bringing back Dangerfield.
Dangerfield is not new to disappointments. An undrafted free agent out of Towson in 2013, he had a solid camp with the Buffalo Bills that year before being released with the final wave of roster cuts.
The big hitter was signed to a Reserve/Future contract by the Steelers in 2014, and created a bit of a buzz for himself for reasons other than his name. He impressed early on in training camp and in the first couple of preseason games, but he began to fade down the stretch, which was the same issue that he had in Buffalo.
Dangerfield did not make the cut, nor did he earn a spot on the practice squad, initially, in spite of the fact that the Steelers kept six in total. Ventrone, due to his special teams ability, got the practice squad spot, but later in the year, as injuries mounted, he did spend a short period of time on the practice squad in November and December.
Re-signed once again to a Reserve/Future contract in January, Dangerfield figured to be a favorite sleeper among the many young safeties that the team signed, looking for more depth, because of the early buzz that he generated and the fact that he was on the practice squad.
That is why it became a surprise when he was the one who was released at safety when the Steelers needed an open roster spot. But perhaps the team felt that they knew enough about him through two offseasons to know what his ceiling is.
With a need at the position, Dangerfield is getting a third chance with Pittsburgh to not only make a name for himself—he’s already done that—but to make it stick this time.