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Steelers Call Up Versatile DB from Practice Squad, Expected to Start



Steelers DB Eric Rowe

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers are elevating safety Eric Rowe from the practice for Saturday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Rowe will see playing time, and maybe even start, with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Trenton Thompson out. It figures that the starting lineup could be Rowe and Patrick Peterson, with Peterson making the move from cornerback to safety with the injuries.

Minkah Fitzpatrick is out with a knee injury, and Damontae Kazee will not play after being suspended by the NFL for his hit on Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman. The NFL levied out a season-long suspension for Kazee, but it did get appealed down so Kazee could return in the playoffs. Kazee will miss the rest of the regular season with his suspension.

Thompson replaced Kazee after his ejection on Saturday and was expected to do so going forward, but with Thompson out, the team’s corps is even thinner. Miles Killebrew will play, and the team hopes that Elijah Riley, dealing with an ankle injury, will suit up and play. That would give them four safeties to work with if Riley does play.

That opens the door for Rowe, who has played in the NFL for nearly a decade. Not only that, he is a guy who has been around winning organizations with the Patriots, so he knows how this works. He has been in the system for a month at this point and seems to be assimilating well into the system.

Rowe, 31, has played for the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins since coming into the league as a second-round pick of the Eagles out of Utah in 2015.

A 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive back, Rowe has split his career playing time equally between outside cornerback, slot cornerback and strong safety, while also spending time at free safety and linebacker.

Last season with the Miami Dolphins, he played 248 snaps at strong safety, 188 as a slot corner, 30 as a linebacker, 57 as a free safety and 44 as an outside corner.

In his eight-year NFL career, Rowe has played in 100 games and made 56 starts. He has recorded 381 tackles, 41 passes defended, seven tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, two sacks, six forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

He won Super Bowls LI and LIII with the New England Patriots and has been a multi-year teammate of Steelers linebacker Elandon Roberts. That relationship goes back and will make Rowe comfortable in the locker room to start.