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Steelers LB Kyron Johnson

The Pittsburgh Steelers have elevated outside linebacker Kyron Johnson from the practice squad for Saturday’s Week 15 game against the Indianapolis Colts, the team announced.

Johnson has been on the Steelers’ practice squad since Oct. 9. He was also elevated for the team’s Week 13 and 14 games against the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots. He has played on the special teams coverage units with the injuries piling up throughout the defense.

Johnson was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022 and has 16 games of NFL experience, mostly on special teams, which is where he will likely play for the Steelers.

Since the twin injuries to Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb thinned the Steelers’ inside linebacker depth, the Steelers have been using Tariq Carpenter to replace Elandon Roberts’ role on special teams, now that Roberts is playing nearly ever down of defense.

The Steelers elevated Carpenter from the practice squad for game days three times, which is the maximum number of times that he can be elevated without clearing a spot on the 53-man roster, opening the door for Johnson starting last Sunday.

Johnson has played both inside and outside linebacker in his time in the NFL, and has worked mostly with the outside linebackers since joining the Steelers, though again, his role is expected to come mostly on special teams.

A freak athlete, Johnson ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at his pro day coming out of Kansas. He backed that up with a 39.5-inch vertical jump, showcasing he is both explosive and fast.

His senior year at Kansas was his best, racking 6.5 sacks and 63 tackles. Over his career, he posted 12.5 sacks, 193 tackles, and 22.5 tackles for loss. Kansas embraced Johnson’s versatility but liked him more as an outside linebacker for most of his tenure. When he joined the Eagles last year, Johnson played off-ball outside linebacker in that 4-3  system.

Philadelphia released Johnson from their practice squad early in September after bringing him back following initial cut-downs. During the preseason, Johnson played 33 total snaps, registering two pressures during those snaps as a pass rusher.

Johnson could also act as the fourth edge rusher, as he did last week. Markus Golden was made inactive to give the team enough special teams firepower moving forward.