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No Drama: Steelers ILB Kwon Alexander Says He’ll Give Up No. 26



Steelers LB Kwon Alexander
Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Kwon Alexander at training camp, Aug. 5, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers are whittling down their roster as they move from a 90-man roster to a 53-man roster, but they have one other roster issue that must be resolved before the start of the regular season: both inside linebacker Kwon Alexander and running back Anthony McFarland are still wearing No. 26, which is commonplace in the preseason, but doesn’t fly in the regular season.

McFarland has had the number for his entire three seasons in Pittsburgh, but Alexander is a nine-year NFL vet, so his preference could take priority.

Fortunately for all, it doesn’t appear that there will be a standoff. Alexander said on Monday that he’s planning to switch his jersey number after cuts are made. He said he’ll wait to see what’s available, but will probably go back to a number in the 50’s.

None of the numbers that Alexander has worn in his NFL career are likely to be available to him. He wore No. 58 twice, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints, but that is unofficially retired in Pittsburgh for Jack Lambert. 

Steelers Kwon Alexander

New York Jets linebacker Kwon Alexander (9) during player introductions before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

He also wore No. 56 with the San Francisco 49ers, which is held by Alex Highsmith, and Nos. 5 and 9 over the last two seasons after the NFL loosened restrictions on defensive players wearing eligible numbers.

The Steelers, though, don’t seem to be a willing participant in that program. They let outside linebacker Melvin Ingram III wear No. 8 in 2021, but haven’t given out another single-digit jersey to a defensive player, forcing Patrick Peterson to wear No. 20 and Joey Porter Jr. No. 24 this offseason. They also wouldn’t let rookie tight end Darnell Washington wear No. 0.

Three Steelers defenders in this camp wore non-traditional numbers, Alexander’s 26, Trenton Thompson had 17 and Jalen Elliott, who was cut on Monday, had been wearing No. 16.

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