Can’t make the club from the tub. That’s the old saying. Second-year cornerback Antoine Brooks Jr. found that out the hard way, waived/injured Tuesday after missing a large chunk of the preseason with a leg injury. Keith Butler recognized the harsh realities of the NFL in speaking to reporters Wednesday when asked about the decision to waive Brooks Jr.
“He was hurt for a lot of the training camp,” Butler told reporters in a tweet sent out by the Trib’s Chris Adamski. “So when it gets down to the nitty gritty, you gotta make some tough choices. You know, Mike and Kevin have never been shy about making the tough choices.”
Entering camp as the Steelers’ starting slot corner, Brooks missed his first full day of practice on August 8th. He didn’t return to practice until August 18th, getting in a full session during the last day of public training camp practices. He did not play in Saturday’s preseason game against Detroit, perhaps signaling he suffered a setback or that he simply wasn’t healthy enough to take part.
Like everything else in this league, the Steelers’ focus shifts to the guys they do have. Not the ones they don’t.
“Right now, we gotta figure out who we’ve got and how we’re gonna play them and stuff like that. Unfortunately for [Brooks], he was out too much for him to in order for him to build a case to make.”
The Steelers’ in-house options include Cam Sutton, the most likely man to play in the slot, just as he did for 12 snaps against the Lions. Arthur Maulet is also in the mix, avoiding a serious ankle injury against Detroit, and could at least see work in dime packages. There’s also undrafted free agent Shakur Brown, coming into camp as the third-string slot (and really fourth, if you include Sutton). Brown has been healthy and available but struggled this past game, drawing two second-half penalties. Unless he turns it on in the finale, he’s unlikely to make the 53.
There’s always the chance the team explores outside help too and the odds of them adding at least one defensive back to the roster seem pretty good.