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Ben Roethlisberger among Four More Steelers Placed on COVID-19 List

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The Steelers have placed starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the COVID-19 reserve list, among four players that were added, likely as close contacts of confirmed positive case Vance McDonald, who was placed on the list Monday.

The other players added to the list are tackle Jerald Hawkins, running back Jaylen Samuels and inside linebacker Vince Williams.

The four players will not be permitted to practice with the team or enter UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for the next five day, regardless of whether or not they test positive for COVID-19, due to their status as close contacts of McDonald. They are permitted to attend meetings virtually. If any of the players were to become symptomatic or test positive, further contact tracing may be required.

If the players do not develop symptoms and continue to test negative, they will be able to return to play on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, though the will have to do so without a week of practice.

Roethlisberger was banged up during the team’s win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, suffered injuries to both knees, though he said after the game his knee was “fine” and did not expect to have any lingering issues.

If he’s unable to play, Mason Rudolph would once again assume the starting quarterback role. Williams will likely be replaced at practice this week by new addition Avery Williamson, who will be able to practice with the team for the first time on Wednesday after sitting out a week of practice after coming over from the New York Jets in a trade last week.

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Steelers Workout Trio of Specialists Wednesday

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The Pittsburgh Steelers worked out a trio of specialists on Wednesday – long snapper and linebacker Christian Kuntz, punter Branden Wright and kicker Matthew Wright.

Kuntz has spent practice squad and offseason time with five clubs over his career, including Pittsburgh twice over the last two seasons. He was waived on Aug. 2 after spending training camp with the Steelers earlier this year.

A local product, Kuntz attended Chartiers Valley and played his college ball at Duquesne. He also played for the Dallas Renegades of the XFL in 2019.

Matthew Wright signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft and spent training camp with Pittsburgh two seasons ago, but did not make the final 53-man roster.

Wright made 55 of 71 field goals over four seasons in Orlando. He also hit 210 of 213 extra points during his collegiate career.

A rookie out of Georgia State, Brandon Wright originally signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent. He handled punting and kicking duties for the Panthers, averaging 43.3 yards a punt for his career and making 32 of 54 field goals.

After starting the season on the Jaguars’ practice squad, he was elevated to the active roster against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3 to replace injured kicker Josh Lambo. He hit two extra points, but injured his groin and was waived off injured reserve a few days later.

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Steelers Sign TE Charles Jones to Practice Squad, Release LB Ryan Wilborn

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed tight end Charles Jones to their practice squad and released linebacker Ryan Wilborn, the team announced Tuesday.

Undrafted out of Tulane in 2019, Jones signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. He began the season as a member of the practice squad, but was promoted to the active roster and appeared in four games.

Jones began the 2020 season with Jacksonville as well, but was waived in September. He was also briefly a member of the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad earlier this season.

Jones caught 61 passes for 460 yards and eight touchdowns for the Green Wave over four seasons.

Wilborn was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad back on Oct. 23. A rookie that went undrafted out of Ball State, he initially signing with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent this offseason.

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Steelers Place Kevin Dotson on COVID-19 List, Activate Antoine Brooks Jr.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have placed rookie guard Kevin Dotson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dotson missed practice on Friday with an illness. It is not known if he tested positive for the virus, but the Steelers did receive criticism a week ago when tight end Vance McDonald travelled and played against the Dallas Cowboys after sitting with an illness on Nov. 6. The move could be out of an abundance of caution.

The news comes the same day as Pittsburgh activated four players off the Reserve/COVID-19 list, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, after they all were identified as having had contact with McDonald. Dotson’s placement on the list could preempt further designation due to contact tracing.

Dotson was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Louisiana. He has played in all eight games this season and made two starts.

In a corresponding move, the Steelers activated safety Antoine Brooks Jr. off of the practice squad, adding the rookie to the 53-man roster to replace Dotson.

Brooks Jr. was selected in the sixth round of this year’s draft out of Maryland.

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