The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Ross Ventrone
Experience: 3 Years
In spite of the fact that he originally went undrafted during the 2010 season, safety Ross Ventrone only logged his second and third accrued seasons over the course of the past two years with the Steelers, with his first accrued season being accounted for in 2011 with the Patriots.
That does mean that the special teams ace no longer has practice squad eligibility, which he did up until now. Ventrone initially made the Steelers’ 53-man roster and served as an active player for the first five games of the season, but he was released afterward in order to make room for wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who was being activated from the suspended list.
After his released, he spent a bit of time on the Patriots’ practice squad, where his brother serves on the coaching staff assisting the special teams. After spending a few weeks there, he was released, and remained unsigned until the Steelers came calling his name again over a month later, in late December, following the injury to Roosevelt Nix. He was signed to the practice squad, and then a few days later was promoted to the 53-man roster after the team released Jacoby Jones.
It should be noted that Ventrone’s initial release was likely at least in part influenced by the fact that he suffered a hamstring injury in the game prior to his release in San Diego. He left that game and did not return, and the Patriots did not sign him to their practice squad until two weeks later, which hints toward a necessary recovery period.
Still, things might have gone differently for him had Nix not suffered an injury. He likely would have remained unsigned for the rest of the year, and faced a more uncertain future. Because of the injury, he found his way back onto the 53-man roster, and was signed to a Reserve/Future contract after the season ended.
When he did return, he made an impact, downing a couple of punts inside the five-yard line, if my memory is correct, and he also served as one of the team’s primary gunners during both of his stints on the 53-man roster. He is a special teams standout, to be sure. One wonders if there is a place for him in 2016, but the team did just suffer some special teams losses.