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Report: Steelers Release RMU Alum Marcelis Branch

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The Steelers have released first-year cornerback Marcelis Branch, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com

Branch, 25, is a Robert Morris alum. He played in three of the Steelers’ four preseason game, recording seven tackles, defending two passes and making an interception on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers.

The Homestead, Florida native spent 2018 out of football after attending training camp with the Atlanta Falcons. He also attended camp with Atlanta in 2017. He signed a reserve/future contract with the Steelers in January.

Branch was a three-time all-NEC selection with the Colonials. He set a program record with 42 starts and finished his time at Robert Morris 10th on the team’s all-time tackling list.

Branch is the second player to be released by the Steelers following the end of the preseason, joining tight end/long snapper Trevor Wood. The team’s roster now stands at 89 players. They must get down to 53 by 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Steelers News & Transactions

Daniel McCullers Terminates Practice Squad Contract with Steelers, 4 Others Protected

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Steelers nose tackle Daniel McCullers has terminated his contract from the team’s practice squad, while four other practice squad players had their contracts protected by the team.

McCullers, 28, was the Steelers’ sixth-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and had spent the previous six seasons with the team, playing in 73 and making three starts while amassing 41 career tackles, four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

The 6-foot-7, 352-pound nose tackle was a somewhat surprising cut for the Steelers after training camp this season, losing his spot on the 53-man roster to rookie Carlos Davis.

McCullers was immediately signed to the Steelers’ practice squad and had been there since requesting his release on Tuesday. He is now free to sign with any team, to their active roster or practice squad.

The Steelers protected practice squad members wide receiver Deon Cain, linebacker Jayrone Elliott, defensive end Henry Mondeaux and running back Wendell Smallwood. Those players will remain on the Steelers’ practice squad through the week and cannot be signed by another team.

Without McCullers, the Steelers have one empty spot on their 16-man practice squad in advance of this Sunday’s Week 3 visit from the Houston Texans.

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Steelers News & Transactions

Steelers Place OL Stefen Wisniewski on IR; Promote Derwin Gray from Practice Squad

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The Steelers have placed offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski on the injured reserve list and promoted offensive lineman Derwin Gray from their practice squad, the team announced on Friday.

Wisniewski suffered a pectoral injury late in the Steelers’ 26-16 season-opening win over the New York Giants on Monday and did not return. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that he would “leave the light on” for Wisniewski to play this week, but he did not practice in any of the team’s three sessions in advance of Sunday’s home opener against the Denver Broncos.

Wisniewski started in place of David DeCastro on Monday. DeCastro, who has been out with a knee injury since the second week of training camp, has also been ruled out for Sunday’s game. Rookie Kevin Dotson is expected to start at right guard.

For the 2020 season, the NFL has added significant flexibility when it comes to the rules surrounding the injured reserve. Wisniewski will have to miss at least three weeks’ worth of games and practices while on the IR. At that point, the Steelers could return him to practicing with the team and would have another three weeks to decide whether they want to add him back to the active roster or remain on reserve for the remainder of the season. There is no maximum number of players that can return from IR this season.

The Steelers signed Wisniewski, a Central Catholic and Penn State alum, as an unrestricted free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason, hoping to use him as a swing backup between center and guard in the fashion the team had used B.J. Finney in recent years. Wisniewski signed a two-year, $2.85 million contract with the Steelers.

Gray, 25, was the Steelers’ seventh-round draft pick out of Maryland in 2019. He did not make the team out of training camp last season, spent all of 2019 on the practice squad and then re-signed a reserve/future contract for 2020 in December. He was released once again on Sept. 5 of this year and added to the practice squad the next day. A tackle in college, Gray has played mostly guard in his time with the Steelers.

Wisniewski is the second Steelers player and second offensive lineman to be placed on injured reserve following the season opener. The Steelers placed right tackle Zach Banner on the reserve list on Wednesday.

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Steelers News & Transactions

Steelers Sign S John Battle to Practice Squad

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The Steelers have signed safety John Battle to their practice squad, the team announced on Friday.

Battle, 25, originally signed with the Steelers on a reserve/future contract in January and spent the entire offseason with the squad before being released at the end of training camp earlier this month.

The Steelers had an open spot on their practice squad after the Arizona Cardinals signed away safety Curtis Riley on Wednesday.

Before joining the Steelers, Battle spent training camp with the New York Jets in 2019 after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent out of LSU. In 38 games with the Tigers, Battle recorded 143 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, five interceptions, forced two fumbles and defended 11 passes.

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