Jayrone Elliott was Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper before Adeniyi and Skipper. An undrafted edge defender out of Toledo in 2014, he went on to have a great preseason, recording five sacks, but would ultimately fail to establish a consistent NFL career.
He hung around with the Green Bay Packers for his first three seasons, logging more than 300 defensive snaps in that time, but he has logged just 26 defensive snaps since then, last playing a meaningful role in 2016.
That is at least before Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, with Bud Dupree on the Reserve/Injured List and T.J. Watt being rested for a finale that held little meaning to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ playoff status.
Adeniyi started the game, but Elliott, as the only other linebacker behind Alex Highsmith (Cassius Marsh is on the Reserve/Covid-19 List), got a good amount of playing time. He finished the game with four tackles, a sack, a hit, and two tackles for loss. It was his first sack since 2016, and it came against his hometown team.
“Honestly, this was my Christmas. Just being from Cleveland, being out of football for a couple years, and just to get back here and to play in my hometown in front of my fans, my family, and to see how this game came down to and to know what this means to the city”, he told reporters after the game.
“I’m a little upset that we lost, but I understand what’s going on with the whole team, and the city of Cleveland, so once again, congratulations to the city of Cleveland, but here in the city of Pittsburgh, we’ve got some work to do”, he added.
The Browns, of course, clinched their first postseason berth since 2002 with the victory over the Steelers. Elliott was 12 years old the last time they played in a playoff game. He was just a few years old the last time they won one.
The veteran had seen just four defensive snaps all season over seven games prior to getting on the field in Cleveland, though he had also seen 100 snaps on special teams. He and Marsh, along with Adeniyi, make up the depth at the outside linebacker position now behind Watt and the rookie Highsmith.
I’m sure some Steelers fans might not be thrilled hearing him talk about his connections to Cleveland and all that, both players are humans who have had lives and experiences and connections. Joe Haden, though he presumably won’t be available for their postseason rematch against the Browns, was also thrilled to see them finally break the drought, having played his first seven years there.