The Steelers released punter Dustin Colquitt on Friday, just five games into his tenure as the team’s punter, as part of a series of roster moves.
The team also placed linebacker Devin Bush on the injured reserve list, promoted defensive end Henry Mondeaux from the practice squad and signed rookie free agent linebacker Ray Wilborn to the practice squad.
Colquitt was signed to replace incumbent starter Jordan Berry at in between the end of training camp and the start of the regular season, but through five games, he had the worst net punting average in the NFL.
“I acknowledge that our punting is not up to snuff and that we have to get better in that area, and we are willing to do whatever is required in an effort to do so,” head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday.
It’s not clear who the Steelers plan to replace Colquitt with at this time. They hosted Berry for a free-agent visit this week. They could also call up rookie punter Corliss Waitman from the practice squad.
Bush underwent surgery on Wednesday on his ACL and is expected to miss the remainder of the 2020 season. He will be replaced at inside linebacker by second-year backup Robert Spillane.
Mondeaux, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive end out of Oregon, originally signed with the Steelers in May 2019 and spent all of the 2019 season on the team’s practice squad. He re-signed for 2020, and was once again placed on the practice squad before the start of the regular season.
Wilborn visited the Steelers on Monday. A 6-foot-4, 225-pound rookie out of Ball State, Wilborn played both safety and linebacker for the Cardinals, but projected to be a linebacker in the NFL. He spent training camp with the Atlanta Falcons.
With the moves, the Steelers still have one open spot on their 53-man roster and can call up as many as two players from the practice squad to play against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Waitman could be one of those players, as could running back Trey Edmunds, who could once again be asked to replace injured fullback Derek Watt.
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.