Over the course of just a two-day span, the Pittsburgh Steelers have already featured 17 different players on their 10-man practice squad. Of the 17 players, only nine were with the team during training camp.
In other words, nearly half of the total players that have already featured on the practice squad came from the rosters of other teams, and only half of the current practice squad features players that spent the offseason with the Steelers.
That certainly speaks to just out thin Pittsburgh’s 90-man roster proved to be, at least when considering a position-by-position basis. The Steelers currently have two linebackers on the practice squad, both of whom were with the team, for example, in spite of the fact that they kept nine linebackers from their offseason roster on the 53-man roster.
The practice squad, on the other hand, now features two offensive linemen from other teams while the 53-man roster has just eight, including one who only recently signed with the team. Likewise, they have already gone through two running backs and two tight ends on the practice squad, none of whom spent a single second on the team’s 90-man roster.
The initial 10-man practice squad featured seven players who were on the roster, four of whom have since been released, including center Reese Dismukes, wide receiver Jarrod West, defensive end Ethan Hemer, and outside linebacker Shayon Green.
The latter two were displaced by two of the Steelers’ rookie draft picks, who were initially on the 53-man roster, but were moved to the practice squad after clearing waivers. Green lost his spot to outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, while Hemer’s spot was made expendable after the team added another lineman to the 53-man roster via waivers, opening a spot for cornerback Doran Grant.
Dismukes was no doubt kept simply due to the sheer number of injuries that the team faced along the offensive line during the preseason, and when they were given the opportunity to replace him with Barrett Jones, they did so.
West, likewise, was replaced by wide receiver Isaiah Burse, a second-year player who returned 29 punts last season for 211 yards for the Broncos, though he fumbled three of them. The Steelers immediately flipped a tackle, tight end, and running back, none of whom were with the team, for positional replacements who were also not with the team.
There are only three carryovers from the Steelers’ initial 10-man practice squad, those being wide receiver Shakim Phillips, linebacker L.J. Fort, and safety Jordan Dangerfield. A common thread between all three is that they drew attention to themselves during the preseason and contributed on special teams.
Phillips was able to make a few eye-catching grabs during the preseason, which included a go-ahead touchdown in the Steelers’ only win. Fort, claimed off waivers prior to their fourth preseason game, showed some flashes on defense with a sack and a pass deflection and was active on special teams. Dangerfield has a well-deserved reputation as somebody who loves hitting, whether it is on defense or special teams.
I wrote yesterday that the Steelers are one team in particular that views their roster as a fluid concept, and they certainly have proven my point since then. The 53-man roster has already displaced three players, and the practice squad seven.