The Steelers have re-signed wide receiver Anthony Johnson to their practice squad and released wide receiver Amara Darboh.
Johnson, 25, is in his second professional season out of Buffalo. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound receiver spent the 2020 offseason with the Steelers before suffering a knee injury in training camp.
Teams cannot re-sign players that they’ve reached an injury settlement with for at least three weeks longer than the term of the settlement, which is not publicly disclosed.
The Steelers originally signed Johnson to a reserve/future contract on Jan. 8. He spent the 2019 preseason with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then on the practice squad of the Los Angeles Chargers.
In two seasons at Buffalo, Johnson caught 133 passes for 2,367 yards and 25 touchdowns. He led the MAC in receiving yards per game in his junior season.
Darboh joined the Steelers mid-year in 2019 after spending time with the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a third-round pick of the Seahawks in 2017.
The Steelers initially signed him to their practice squad on Nov. 18, 2019, then he was promoted to the active roster on Dec. 16, 2019, but did not play in a game. He returned to the Steelers for 2020, was waived at the end of training camp and re-signed to the practice squad.
When Diontae Johnson was injured earlier this season and missed time, the Steelers elevated fellow practice squad receiver Deon Cain ahead of Darboh.
The Steelers’ 16-man practice squad and 53-man roster are both full after the transactions.
Steelers Activate Isaiah Buggs, Kevin Dotson from COVID-19 Reserve List
The Steelers have activated guard Kevin Dotson and defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs from the COVID-19 reserve list, signed kicker Matthew Wright to the practice squad and will activate safety Antoine Brooks, Jr. from the practice squad for Tuesday’s game with the Baltimore Ravens.
Dotson was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Nov. 14 and missed the team’s Week 11 game with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Buggs was placed on the list on Saturday along with defensive end Stephon Tuitt and offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins.
Hawkins and Tuitt will miss Tuesday’s game, along with running back James Conner, special teams coordinator Danny Smith and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada.
Dotson, a fourth-round rookie from Louisiana, has been a valuable back up for guards David DeCastro and Matt Feiler this season.
Buggs help replace Tuitt, along with Chris Wormley and Henry Mondeaux. He’s filled in at both end and nose tackle at times in this, his second season.
Brooks has played in two games this season as an activated practice squad members, dressing in Week 9 against Dallas and Week 10 against Cincinnati. He record two tackles in that game and also got his first snaps on defense after playing just special teams against the Cowboys.
Wright spent the 2019 offseason with the Steelers and was expected to be legitimate competition for incumbent Chris Boswell with Boswell coming off a poor 2018 season. Boswell re-established himself and Wright was cut at the outset of training camp.
The Steelers have had Wright in for a visit in consecutive weeks, an effort to keep him in the testing protocol in case the team had an issue with Boswell’s availability, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Sunday. His signing fills the Steelers’ practice squad with 16 members.
The Steelers have also kept an extra punter on the practice squad all season in rookie Corliss Waitman.
Steelers Place RB James Conner on COVID-19 Reserve List
The Steelers have officially placed running back James Conner on the COVID-19 reserve list, the team announced on Saturday.
Conner, the Steelers’ starting running back, has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
Conner will be forced to miss the Steelers’ Week 12 game against the Baltimore Ravens, which is currently scheduled for Tuesday night.
Players that test positive for COVID-19 and are symptomatic must sit out at least 10 days. Players that remain asymptomatic can return after five days out and consecutive negative tests.
Contact tracing is underway to identify close contacts of Conner. Those players will also not be able to play on Tuesday.
Conner will likely be replaced by second-year backup Benny Snell, Jr.
He’ll join four other Steelers players on the COVID-19 list: defensive linemen Isaiah Buggs and Stephon Tuitt and offensive linemen Kevin Dotson and Jerald Hawkins.
Steelers Place Stephon Tuitt, Isaiah Buggs, Jerald Hawkins on COVID-19 Reserve List
The Steelers have placed defensive end Stephon Tuitt, defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs and offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins on the COVID-19 reserve list, the team announced on Friday.
The COVID-19 reserve list can be used both for players that have tested positive for the disease and also for players that have to isolate after potentially being exposed. It’s not clear which category the Steelers players are in, though when tight end Vance McDonald tested positive a few weeks ago, the team announced it as such.
The additions make four Steelers on the COVID-19 reserve list. Offensive lineman Kevin Dotson is also on the list, while McDonald was re-activated this week.
Players on the COVID-19 reserve list that test positive and are symptomatic cannot play or practice for 10 days. Those that are asymptomatic must miss at least five days. Players that are in isolation for potential exposure must also sit out at least five days.
That means that Buggs, Hawkins and Tuitt will all likely miss the Steelers’ Tuesday game with the Baltimore Ravens.
Tuitt has started every game for the Steelers at defensive end this season, and Buggs has been one of the team’s primary backups at that position. Henry Mondeaux, who was promoted from the practice squad earlier this season and played in the team’s last five games, would likely be in line to start at end in the team’s base defense, with nose tackle Tyson Alualu getting additional playing time in the Steelers’ two-lineman sub package sets.
Hawkins is the Steelers’ primary backup at both tackles and third tight end. Fellow backup Derwin Gray can play both guard and tackle, and left guard Matt Feiler has played tackle in the past.