The Pittsburgh Steelers have promoted tight end Rodney Williams II from their practice squad to their active roster, the team announced on Wednesday.
Williams, 25, is in his second season with the Steelers. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end joined the Steelers practice squad just after the start of the regular season last fall. He spent the entire 2022 season on the practice squad without being elevated and re-signed with the Steelers for 2023 in January.
During this year’s training camp, Williams was one of the team’s most improved players, and that improvement allowed the team to feel comfortable with keeping just three tight ends on the active roster with Williams on the pratice squad, and cutting loose veteran Zach Gentry.
“Them keeping me around definitely boosted my confidence, their trust in me and me knowing the system,” Williams said. “I treated last year more like a redshirt year. Getting to go against guys like Alex (Highsmith) and T.J. (Watt) in practice every day helped me become a better blocker. Running routes on Minkah (Fitzpatrick) and Terrell Edmunds last year, that helped me in my pass game development. I think that year last year helped me a lot.”
With Darnell Washington a big blocker and Connor Heyward a more versatile piece that also plays fullback and running back, Williams sees himself as Pat Freiermuth’s direct backup, which makes it not surprising that he got the call with Freiermuth expected to miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury.
“That’s who my game is the closest to out of the guys in the room,” Williams said. “I would see myself as Pat’s backup.”
In three preseason games this season, Williams caught two passes for 15 yards. Before joining the Steelers in 2022, he was in training camp with the Denver Broncos.
A UT-Martin alum, Williams started out as a wide receiver with the Skyhawks before moving to tight end. He was an FCS All-American and two-time All-OVC selection.
The Steelers had already cleared the needed space for Williams on their 53-man roster by releasing wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick on Monday.