PITTSBURGH — The Steelers signed linebacker Jaylon Smith to their practice squad on Wednesday, but Smith is no average linebacker. He is one of the many veterans the team has brought in to try and rectify the position with so many injuries. Now, with Elandon Roberts banged up with a pectoral injury, Smith could have the chance to get himself ready and play at some point soon.
Smith, 28, was most recently with the Las Vegas Raiders practice squad from Nov. 2. Smith played in one game with the Raiders this season, making two tackles. He was released on Nov. 22 and has been a free agent since.
Smith also spent time with the New Orleans Saints this season, but did not appear in any games with them.
A 6-foot-2, 240-pound off-ball linebacker, Smith was a second-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2016. He spent six years with the Cowboys. He missed his rookie year with an injury suffered in college, and worked as a reserve for most of 2017. He became a starter in 2018 and had success, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2019. That year, he had 142 tackles, six tackles for loss, 2 1/2 sacks, nine passes defended, two forced fumbles and an interception.
The team is looking for him to step up, and they will learn him over the week.
“We’ll see. Just like we brought the other veterans in, the biggest thing is trying to get him up to speed as fast as possible,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “I don’t know much about how he is in the classroom and all those things, but I’m going to bet he’s pretty good. You don’t become an All-Pro and play some good football in this league for a lot of years not knowing what to do. I just think it’s going to be a matter of time. He seems to be picking up things, the little bit that we’ve given him in a day, he seems to be picking that up OK. You know how it is. When you get to a matter of game planning and the amount of stuff you have in, the details of it, that’s where we have to see how he is and where he stacks up.”
The Steelers are in desperate need of additional bodies at inside linebacker, where Roberts is the third consecutive starter to be lost to injury. Myles Jack and Mykal Walker are expected to start for the team this week against the Seattle Seahawks, with Blake Martinez and Mark Robinson providing depth.