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Steelers News & Transactions

Steelers Re-Sign OLB Sutton Smith to Practice Squad; Release RB Darrin Hall

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The Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed linebacker Sutton Smith to their practice squad and released running back Darrin Hall on Tuesday.

Smith, the Steelers’ sixth-round draft pick out of Northern Illinois in the 2019 NFL Draft, had been signed back to the practice squad for one day last week, before being released again favor of Hall.

They’ll now once again switch places as the Steelers experienced a pair of injuries at the outside linebacker position on Sunday. Backup Anthony Chickillo suffered a rib cartilage injury and third-stringer Ola Adeniyi suffered a hip injury in the Steelers’ 17-12 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

That leaves the Steelers with just two healthy outside linebackers for practice in the days leading up to their Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns.

Meanwhile, the running back crunch that precipitated the signing of Hall has lessened. Trey Edmunds, who was held out of practice for much of last week, returned to action on Sunday and starter James Conner is expected to return to action against the Browns.

Smith played defensive end at NIU and the Steelers used him as a Swiss Army knife through minicamp and training camp, working him at outside linebacker, fullback and on special teams.

The Steelers are also missing regular fullback Rosie Nix, who missed his seventh game of the season with a re-aggravated knee injury on Sunday.

Steelers News & Transactions

Steelers Place OL Stefen Wisniewski on IR; Promote Derwin Gray from Practice Squad

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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.

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Steelers News & Transactions

Steelers Sign S John Battle to Practice Squad

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The Steelers have signed safety John Battle to their practice squad, the team announced on Friday.

Battle, 25, originally signed with the Steelers on a reserve/future contract in January and spent the entire offseason with the squad before being released at the end of training camp earlier this month.

The Steelers had an open spot on their practice squad after the Arizona Cardinals signed away safety Curtis Riley on Wednesday.

Before joining the Steelers, Battle spent training camp with the New York Jets in 2019 after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent out of LSU. In 38 games with the Tigers, Battle recorded 143 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, five interceptions, forced two fumbles and defended 11 passes.

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Steelers News & Transactions

Cardinals Sign S Curtis Riley from Steelers Practice Squad, 4 Others Protected

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Safety Curtis Riley has been signed from the Steelers’ practice squad by the Arizona Cardinals. Riley signed with the Steelers on July 30 after spending the 2019 season with the Oakland Raiders. Riley survived the Steelers’ initial cut down to a 53-man roster, but was released on Sept. 6 after the team re-signed safety Sean Davis. He was added to the practice squad that day.

The Steelers had the option to protect Riley to prevent him from signing with another club, but chose not to. Their four protected practice squad players this week are linebacker Jayrone Elliott, offensive lineman Derwin Gray, defensive end Henry Mondeaux and running back Wendell Smallwood.

This season, NFL teams can protect four players per week from being signed elsewhere. Without Riley, the Steelers’ practice squad stands at 15 members and they can add one player at any time. Two players can be promoted from the practice squad to the active roster each game day. The Steelers did not add any players before Monday’s opener against the New York Giants.

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