The Steelers placed linebacker Ryan Shazier on the physically unable to perform list on Monday.
Shazier, 26, suffered a season-ending and career-threatening back injury on Dec. 4, 2017 and was placed on the injured reserve. He spent the 2018 season on the PUP list, as well.
Remaining on the PUP list means that Shazier continues to accrue time toward his NFL pension and benefits and will retain his medical coverage through the team.
In March, the Steelers tolled the final season of Shazier’s contract into 2019. He will be paid the league minimum for a player of his service time.
“We will continue to support Ryan’s efforts to return to play,” general manager Kevin Colbert said to Steelers.com in March. “Although he won’t be able to help us on the field in 2019, his leadership, insight, and emotional support have always been very valuable to us, and we look forward to his contributions in our pursuit of a championship.”
Shazier has maintained his desire to return to competition someday, and has posted videos of himself lifting weights and performing other physical activities as he recovers.
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Shazier was diagnosed with a spinal contusion in the immediate aftermath of the injury. His full prognosis has never been released.
The Steelers drafted Michigan linebacker Devin Bush in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft on Thursday. He is expected to be Shazier’s spiritual replacement as the Steelers inside linebacker. Veteran Jon Bostic, who was signed as a free agent before the 2018 season, was released on Saturday.
Steelers Sign former Michigan State WR Cody White to Practice Squad
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.
Former Steelers NT Dan McCullers Signs with Chicago Bears
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.
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.