The Steelers have announced that former NFL wide receiver Ike Hilliard has been hired as the team’s new wide receivers coach.
Hilliard was a former first-round pick of the NY Giants in 1997 and went on to play twelve years in the NFL with the Giants (1997-2004) and Tampa Bay (2004-08). The Florida alum played in 161 games and caught 546 passes for 6,397 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Hilliard joins the Steelers coaching staff after spending the last six seasons as the wide receivers coach in Washington. Prior to his time with the Redskins, Hilliard has stunts with the Buffalo Bills (2013), Redskins (2012) and Miami (2011), as their assistant wide receivers coach.
After helping develop Redskins Terry McLaurin into one of the top rookie receivers in the NFL last season, Hilliard will try and do the same with Deon Cain, Diontae Johnson, James Washington and JuJu Smith-Shuster.
Hilliard joins quarterbacks coach Matt Canada as new additions to the Steelers offensive coaching staff this offseason.
T.J. Watt Named AFC Defensive Player of the Week
Leading up to his big matchup vs. his brother J.J and the Houston Texans, T.J. Watt was honored for his performance last Sunday.
Watt was recognized Wednesday morning as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his effort against the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field. This was the third time in his career that Watt has won this award.
During the Steelers 26-21 win over the Broncos, Watt registered 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and four tackles.
Watt continues to be one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL. Counting his performance on Sunday, Watt now has collected 37 career sacks, which is the most by any NFL linebacker since 2017. Here’s another interesting stat courtesy the Pittsburgh Steelers media relations department: Watt has 25 sacks in 25 career games at Heinz Field. Only three players in NFL history have registered more sacks over their first 25 career home games.
Watt and the rest of the Steelers defense will be challenged this Sunday as they host Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans at Heinz Field. Their 2-0 start has the Steelers tied with the Baltimore Ravens for 1st place in the AFC North.
Daniel McCullers Terminates Practice Squad Contract with Steelers, 4 Others Protected
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.
Steelers Place OL Stefen Wisniewski on IR; Promote Derwin Gray from Practice Squad
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.