PITTSBURGH — The Steelers had high hopes for Antoine Brooks Jr. this season.
The team’s sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Brooks served as a backup safety as a rookie, but was moved to the slot corner position this summer to try to replace departed regulars Mike Hilton and Cam Sutton.
But Brooks spent most of the second half of training camp on the shelf with a hamstring injury, and that’s why he was waived on Tuesday, according to defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
“He was hurt for a lot of training camp,” Butler said. “When it comes down to the nitty gritty, you’ve got to make some choices. Tough choices. Mike [Tomlin] and Kevin [Colbert] have never been shy about making those tough choices. We’ve got to figure out who we got and how we’re going to play them and stuff like that. Unfortunately for him, he was out too much to build himself a case to make this football team.”
Butler said it wasn’t just a lack of playing time at the Nickel spot, but that other players had locked down special teams roles in Brooks’ absence, as well.
“To build yourself a case to make this football team in that nickel position, you’d better be able to play some special teams and you’d better make yourself valuable in more than just one thing. Unless you practice, it’s hard to do that.”