The Pittsburgh Steelers have elevated punter Brad Wing from the practice squad to the active roster for the team’s Week 4 game against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Wing, 32, will return to NFL play for the first time since the 2017 season. He was cut by the New York Giants ahead of the 2018 season for substance abuse issues. Wing got his life straightened out and returned to football this spring, playing for Hines Ward’s San Antonio Brahmas of the XFL. He led that league in punting average and had the longest punt of any player in the league.
“I loved it, man,” Wing said. “I thought my football days were over, I thought I’d never play again, so I was just really grateful to be out there playing, and having Hines Ward just made it a whole lot sweeter.”
He was one of a number of players the Steelers tried out at punter since letting Braden Mann go at the end of the preseason. He said he wasn’t surprised that the Steelers were the team to give him another shot.
“It’s a family here,” he said.
Wing has not played in an NFL game in 2,100 days. The length of time in between NFL games is certainly unusual, but it won’t be a record. Quarterback Doug Flutie spent seven years away from the NFL in the 1990s while playing in the Canadian Football League. Former Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox was out of the NFL for five seasons before the XFL helped resurrect his career in 2000.
Wing will automatically return to the practice squad after the game. The Steelers do not need to clear a spot on the 53-man roster to make Wing a game-day elevation. He can be elevated from the practice squad a maximum of three times this season.
Starting punter Pressley Harvin III has been dealing with a right hamstring injury suffered late in the team’s Week 3 win over the Las Vegas Raiders and has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game.