Given the news that Landry Jones had taken all of the first-team reps in practice on Friday, it was no surprise that the Pittsburgh Steelers chose to activate Tyler Murphy from the practice squad yesterday to serve as the backup quarterback for today’s game.
The more surprising half of the transaction was that they placed fifth-year cornerback Cortez Allen on injured reserve after spending the past five weeks on the injury report, and off the field on game days.
We will have plenty more to discuss on the Allen front in the coming days, but one would have to think that with Allen’s placement on injured reserve, leaving the Steelers with just four cornerbacks, will inevitably lead into the team adding another, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
The obvious candidate to be added, of course, would be Doran Grant, who has spent the first six weeks of the season on the practice squad after initially making the 53-man roster.
Grant, the 5’10” rookie cornerback out of Ohio State, was the Steelers’ fourth-round pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, and the fact that he was subsequently released in order to make room for the signings and claims of Jordan Todman and Caushaud Lyons was a bit of a surprise.
Of course, the Steelers had signed cornerback Ross Cockrell just a day prior, which gave the team a total of six cornerbacks on the roster, at least for one day. Grant was released the next day in order to make space for the roster additions from other teams’ cut and waiver lists.
Grant likely would have remained on the 53-man roster had they not had the opportunity to sign Cockrell, which they obviously believe has worked out well. The second-year former fourth-round cornerback drafted by the Bills has played on defense for the past five weeks, doing so extensively in the past three, serving as the team’s nickel back, during which he plays the left outside spot.
Given that the Steelers have nearly exclusively used just three cornerbacks all season, however, it goes without saying that it would not be a shock if they were to carry just the four cornerbacks currently on the roster.
Because of Grant’s special teams background, however, he stands to have a much better chance of getting the phone call on Monday, presumably, when one would expect the Steelers to release Murphy, for the second time, to re-sign him to the practice squad.
That move will have to be predicated on the belief that Ben Roethlisberger, or at least Mike Vick, will be able to suit up next week, though it seemed that the former was not far off from being able to play today.
Opinions alternately on the scouting department and on Grant seemed to sour significantly after the Steelers released him and he was able to clear waivers, with many questioning whether or not he was as good as some thought. It may be a while before he gets another opportunity to showcase himself, but getting a call-up to the 53-man roster would be the first step.