The welcome wagon from the Pittsburgh Steelers fanbase for Tuzar Skipper would probably have been more welcoming this week had his return to the team come under better circumstances. He was a fan favorite in the preseason whose being claimed off waivers led many fans to denounce their religions and jump off of the city’s many scenic bridges, or so the reaction at the time would have implied, yet his reception upon being brought back has been lukewarm at best.
Not that he cares. He’s just happy to be back.
Or “happy, happy, happy”, as he told reporters yesterday, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You don’t understand, my cheek muscles aren’t strong enough to keep the smile off my face”.
Skipper was originally signed as a college free agent by the Steelers after receiving an invitation to participate in their rookie minicamp in May. He was one of invitees to earn contracts over players already on the roster, which prompted them to release Keion Adams.
Skipper, out of Toledo, is a college teammate of Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, who like Skipper made the Steelers’ 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie, just a year ago. The former was on the initial roster before being waived shortly before the season opener.
The Steelers had presumably intended to move him to the practice squad, keeping him on the initial 53 in the hopes of protecting him from the first wave of waiver claims, but the New York Giants were still eying him, and nabbed him.
Skipper would spend the first several weeks of the season on the Giants’ roster, even getting some playing time and recording a sack, but he was waived several weeks ago. Pittsburgh at the time declined to claim him off waivers, instead re-signing Jayrone Elliott for the 118th time, and he went unclaimed altogether. He has since lain dormant on the Giants’ practice squad.
But now he’s back where he started, and where he’s comfortable. “I was surprised getting released, but I was even happier coming back”, he said, admitting that he was hoping the Steelers would claim him off waivers when he was initially released by the Giants.
“I kept everyone’s number” in Pittsburgh, he added. “I wasn’t looking forward to deleting anyone’s number or deleting myself from anyone’s group chats. Whatever group text was going on, I was getting the messages, too. I try to stay connected”.
At least for now, he is once again a part of the group, but if this season has made anything obvious, it is that employment status in the NFL for those who are not starters is always volatile on a good day. Presumably, the Steelers intend to keep him around this time, but there may come a time again when a roster move needs to be made and he’s once again the proverbial low man on the totem pole.