The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up to face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this time back in the confines of Acrisure Stadium, still nursing their wounds after a humiliating 38-3 defeat in Buffalo on Sunday.
There will, at least, be a familiar face or two. Former undrafted signing Fred Johnson is in Tampa, for example. And they have several former members of the organization on their practice squad. The most notable was a new addition today, with the Buccaneers signing former Steelers inside linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III, just days before the two teams face one another—surely a coincidence.
Gilbert, a sixth-round draft pick back in 2019, suffered an ankle injury in early August and was waived injured, reverting to the team’s Reserve/Injured List on August 11. The two parties reached an injury settlement roughly a week later.
He had a visit with the New York Giants last week, which did not result in a contract, but now appears to have been signed to the Buccaneers’ practice squad, according to Pro Football Chase. There are no known significant injuries that the team is dealing with at the position that I’m aware of, but it did release inside linebacker Kenny Young earlier today.
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Because of Young’s release, Tampa Bay currently has 52 players on its 53-man roster, but it’s being reported that Gilbert is being signed to the practice squad. It is possible that that is an initial move with the intention of promoting him to the 53-man roster later on. Or, he’ll just be there until they get whatever information on the Steelers they’re looking for.
Not that they would need much help with the way Pittsburgh’s defense has been playing. The Steelers rank 30th in total defense, 26th in points allowed, 30th in passing defense, and 23rd in run defense. The only area in which they have a solid ranking is takeaways in fourth place, but that skews heavily toward the opener.
As for the Buccaneers, they have a top-10 defense in both total yards and points allowed. They have a stout inside linebacker group headed by Lavonte David and Devin White, and their two reserves remaining on the 53-man roster have also logged defensive snaps for them this season.
Young did not play a single defensive snap this season for Tampa, but he did play 70 special teams snaps. That is where Gilbert made his money, so that may be the role he was signed to fill. He could even be elevated this week to serve on special teams rather than be signed to the 53.