One day after re-signing him to their practice squad, the Steelers released linebacker Sutton Smith on Thursday, instead re-signing running back Darrin Hall.
Hall, a rookie running back out of Pitt, had just been released from the Steelers’ practice squad on Tuesday, when tight end Kevin Rader and wide receiver Terry Wright were added to the unit.
Smith, the Steelers’ sixth-round pick out of Northern Illinois that was released at the end of the preseason, was added on Wednesday, filling a vacant practice squad spot that had existed since running back Tony Brooks-James was promoted to the active roster on Saturday.
But that same shortage that led to Brooks-James’ promotion reared up again the following week, leading the Steelers to bring Hall back into the fold.
Starter James Conner is still being bothered by an AC joint injury suffered in the waning moments of the Steelers’ Week 8 win over the Miami Dolphins. He did not practice on Wednesday.
Neither did third-string back Benny Snell, Jr., who suffered a knee injury against the Dolphins and is expected to miss another week or two after undergoing surgery to trim his meniscus.
Those absences left just Jaylen Samuels and Brooks-James as healthy backs on the roster.
Hall spent time with the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers this preseason before catching on with the Steelers.
Steelers Say Joe Haden, JuJu Smith-Schuster Wouldn’t Have Practiced Monday in Estimated Report
The Steelers did not practice on Monday, but with a game just three days away, they’re still required by NFL rules to put out a practice report, so the team released an estimated practice report Monday evening.
If the team had practiced, it would have been a fairly poorly attended affair.
Wide receiver JuJu-Smith Schuster, who hurt his foot stepping on a penalty flag on Sunday and did not return, and cornerback Joe Haden, who did return to play after tweaking his right knee, would also have been had out.
Tight end Zach Gentry (left knee sprain), who has already been ruled out of Thursday’s game and is expected to be placed on injured reserve after suffering an injury in the first quarter on Sunday, obviously would not have practiced.
The Steelers also estimated that running backs Trey Edmunds (hamstring) and Jaylen Samuels (quadriceps) and linebacker Jayrone Elliott (illness), who all missed Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, would not have returned to work Monday.
For good measure, nine Steelers were given “non-injury related” days offs, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, center Maurkice Pouncey, guard David DeCastro, tackle Alejandro Villanueva, tight end Eric Ebron, defensive end Stephon Tuitt, defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, defensive lineman Cam Heyward and linebacker Vince Williams.
Hopefully, they’ll be well-rested on Tuesday after their estimated break.
Steelers TE Vance McDonald Could Return from COVID-19 List Tuesday
The Steelers will be missing one of their tight ends when they face the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, but they might be getting another one back.
After head coach Mike Tomlin ruled Zach Gentry out of Thursday’s game with a knee injury, he said that co-starter Vance McDonald is scheduled to return to practice from the COVID-19 list on Tuesday.
“Vance is scheduled to work tomorrow,” Tomlin said on Monday. “He’s been cleared to come back. We are going to let the quality of his participation and how he responds to that work be our guide in terms of determining his availability.”
McDonald was placed on the COVID-19 list on Nov. 9 after testing positive after he played in the Steelers’ Nov. 8 game against the Dallas Cowboys. He had missed practice time earlier that week with an illness, but had tested negative in all his pre-game examinations.
Eric Ebron shouldered the load at the tight end position with McDonald out and Jerald Hawkins slid over from tackle on Sunday after Gentry was injured. Practice squad tight end Kevin Rader is an option to play on Thursday if McDonald cannot.
Report: Zach Gentry will Land on Injured Reserve with Sprained Knee
Steelers tight end Zach Gentry reportedly will land on injured reserve with a sprained left knee after leaving Sunday’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars with what head coach Mike Tomlin called a “significant” injury.
“Zach Gentry has a significant knee injury, still waiting on clarification in terms of what that means,” Tomlin said Monday. “It’s safe to say he will not be available this week.”
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Gentry suffered a sprained knee that will cause him to be placed on injured reserve, but that diagnosis was not a significant as originally feared.
#Steelers tight end Zach Gentry suffered a knee sprain, source said after tests. He’ll be placed on Injured Reserve, but it’s not as significant as originally feared.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 23, 2020
If Gentry is placed on the injured reserve list, he will have to miss at least three weeks. The Steelers have just one healthy tight end on their roster at the moment in Eric Ebron. Vance McDonald could come off the COVID-19 list this week and Kevin Rader could be promoted from the practice squad for the game against the Ravens, if necessary.