The Pittsburgh Steelers’ hands were forced by injury to make a pair of roster moves yesterday, calling up quarterback Paxton Lynch and running back Trey Edmunds, both veterans, from the practice squad.
The former in particular was necessary because the team only has one quarterback, rookie Devlin Hodges, on the 53-man roster who is healthy, with Mason Rudolph in the concussion protocol. Second-year running back Jaylen Samuels, however, is expected to miss about a month or so after suffering a knee injury on Sunday that prompted him to have surgery, so Edmunds had to be called up so they could have three running backs.
Neither Rudolph nor Samuels were touched, however. In order to make room for the quarterback and running back, the Steelers parted with an offensive lineman and an outside linebacker. Those would be undrafted rookie guard Fred Johnson and veteran Jayrone Elliott, respectively.
While they were determined to be the low men on the totem pole, both also told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the front office essentially told them they intend to have them back when the opportunity arises.
“I think the guys are making it harder for me than it really is” to pack up his locker, Elliott told Adamski, but expressed his gratefulness for the opportunity he had. “And from the response I’m getting upstairs, they really seem like they’re serious about bringing me back. But this game moves so fast”.
Elliott was signed late in training camp, but made an immediate impact with a strip sack he returned for a touchdown. He was initially released in favor of rookie undrafted free agent Tuzar Skipper, but Skipper was waived and then claimed by the New York Giants as the team was trying to swing a roster move to bring back Johnny Holton.
The first step in that direction would be for either of them would be to clear waivers, as neither of them are vested veterans, but in the case of Elliott, he is not eligible for the practice squad. Johnson is, and he told Adamski that they said they want to bring him back on Monday if he doesn’t get claimed.
Still, he wasn’t sweating it, because he knows he is going to have a job either way. Even if that’s a job on another team’s 53-man roster.
“So I got put on waivers. I could have been here playing being a backup for three, four more years, however long”, he said, or perhaps he could find an even greater opportunity on a team with a bigger need at the offensive line position—and there are many.
Both of them understand the business end of this arrangement, both from the team’s perspective and from theirs. The Steelers intend for this to be a temporary departure, but as we saw with Skipper, sometimes other teams have plans of their own.