On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers promoted cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz to their 53-man roster from the practice squad and not only did the former undrafted free agent out of West Chester College dress for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, he also played 6 defensive snaps during the contest.
On Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if Shabazz playing Sunday was planned all along.
“We had a sub package that was specific to the Jets that we had prepared to go with Justin Gilbert and when he went down we felt good about the package,” Tomlin said. “We didn’t want to take steps backwards, so we just infused Bazz in for Justin.”
Tomlin was then asked if that particular sub package was put in place to help defend Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who they had claimed off waivers at the end of September.
“No it was not,” Tomlin said. “We hadn’t seen Jenkins on tape, so the things that we did in-game to minimize his impact was really on the fly.”
Seferian-Jenkins, by the way, played 20 offensive snaps against the Steelers on Sunday and caught two passes for 17 yards.
In addition to playing some on defense Sunday, Shabazz also played quite a bit on special teams. With cornerback Justin Gilbert still apparently nursing the knee injury that he suffered last week during practice, Shabazz might stay on the roster for at least another week and quite possibly even up until the team’s Week 8 bye. However, once Gilbert is fully healthy, Shabazz could find himself back on the practice squad.