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Steelers Fire Running Back Coach James Saxon

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced running back coach James Saxon will not be brought back for the 2019 season.

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The wave of change promised by head coach Mike Tomlin continued on Monday afternoon, as the team announced the dismissal of running back coach James Saxon.

“I have made the decision to not renew the contract for running backs coach James Saxon,” Tomlin said in a statement Monday “We would like to thank James for his efforts over the past five years, and we wish him the best in his future coaching endeavors.”

The change is one many did not expect to see, since the Steelers running backs have played extremely well under Saxon’s guidance since joining the team in 2014.

Despite James Conner’s superb second season and Jaylen Samuel’s flashes of excellence, Pittsburgh finished second to last in rushing yards gained. In many games last season, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner abandoned the rushing attack early in games in favor of throwing the ball.

Is Saxon being punished for decisions that weren’t his? His track record certainly claims so. From a strict numbers standpoint, however, Saxon failed to elevate his running back room as a whole in Bell’s absence.

Tomlin promised change, and likely wanted to get fresh faces in valuable places inside the locker room. More change is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

 

 

Steelers News & Transactions

Steelers Sign DE Calvin Taylor to Practice Squad, Release CB Trajan Bandy

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The Steelers have signed defensive end Calvin Taylor to their practice squad and released defensive back Trajan Bandy, the team announced on Friday.

Taylor, a 6-foot-7 rookie from Kentucky, spent the entire offseason with the Steelers after singing with the team an an undrafted free agent in April, but was released after training camp.

He’ll add practice depth for the Steelers at defensive end to go along with second-year practice squad player Henry Mondeaux.

The Steelers have just six active defensive linemen: nose tackles Tyson Alualu and Carlos Davis, defensive tackles Cameron Heyward and Chris Wormley and defensive ends Isaiah Buggs and Stephon Tuitt.

Bandy, a rookie free agent out of Miami, was a player that many had high hopes for after leaving the Hurricanes a year early to enter the NFL, but he could not find a spot on the Steelers’ 53-man roster, losing out to James Pierre for the final cornerback spot. Bandy had been the only cornerback on the Steelers’ practice squad.

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Steelers News & Transactions

Steelers Sign former Michigan State WR Cody White to Practice Squad

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The Steelers have signed wide receiver Cody White to their practice squad, the team announced on Thursday.

White worked out for the team in a try out on Tuesday. He had also tried out with the Steelers once before in August.

A 6-foot-3, 215-pound receiver from Novi, Michigan, White left Michigan State after his junior season to pursue an NFL career. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, but was waived with a non-football injury in July.

He was then signed by the New York Giants, but waived during training camp. That’s when he worked out for the Steelers the first time. He then signed with the Denver Broncos on Aug. 23, but was waived at the outset of training camp on Sept. 5.

In three seasons at Michigan State, White caught 143 passes for 1,967 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a junior in 2019, he had 66 catches for 922 yards and six scores to lead the Spartans in all three categories.

White will fill the Steelers’ practice squad after nose tackle Daniel McCullers elected to terminate his contract and join the Chicago Bears earlier this week.

He’ll help a wide receiver corps that has been reduced in practice by nagging injuries to Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster that has caused both players to miss Wednesday’s practice in consecutive weeks.

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Steelers News & Transactions

Former Steelers NT Dan McCullers Signs with Chicago Bears

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Former Steelers defensive tackle Daniel McCullers has found new employment, agreeing on Thursday to a contract with the Chicago Bears, according to multiple reports.

McCullers’ agreement with the Bears was first reported by Joe Rutter of the Tribune-Review.

McCullers, 28, terminated his practice squad contract with the Steelers earlier in the week. He 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.

The Bears added McCullers after defensive tackle John Jenkins suffered a thumb injury. The Steelers are not scheduled to play the Bears this season.

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