The Steelers waived injured defensive lineman Lavon Hooks on Thursday and signed outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott.
Hooks will miss the entire 2019 season with an Achilles injury suffered in practice, according to a report by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. A 6-foot-3, 312 pound defensive end, Hooks has been with the Steelers since 2016, but has never appeared in a game.
If Hooks clears waivers, he will revert to the Steelers’ injured reserve. He originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi with the Green Bay Packers, but was cut after his first training camp. The Steelers signed him the following February to a futures contract.
The same thing played out the following year, as the Steelers released him after training camp but re-signed him in February 2017. After his second camp with the team, Hooks made the practice squad in 2017 and did the same in 2018.
He had worked his way up the depth chart and was challenging sixth-round pick Isaiah Buggs and free agent Dan McCullers for playing time during this year’s training camp.
Elliott, 27, brings four years of NFL experience to the Steelers. He signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo in 2014 and made the 53-man roster. He played three years in Green Bay, recording 57 tackles, four sacks, two passes defended, an interception and a forced fumble.
He was traded to the Dallas Cowboys on the eve of the 2017 season, but was released after playing in one game, and spent the rest of the season out of football. In 2018, he spent training camp with the New Orleans Saints, but was released and didn’t catch on elsewhere.
This spring, Elliott signed with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF and was a rotational linebacker on the same unit as current Steelers defensive lineman Winston Craig.
Elliott then signed with the Miami Dolphins after the AAF folded, but was released on July 24.
The Steelers have had a rash of injuries at the outside linebacker position. Backup Ola Adeniyi is out several weeks after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus, fellow backup Anthony Chickillo was removed from the team’s Week 2 preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a chest injury and sixth-round rookie Sutton Smith has missed significant practice time with an abdominal injury.
Tomlin Bringing Referees into Steelers Practice to Help Penalty Issues
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin thinks his team took too many penalties in their Week 2 win over the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field on Saturday, and he’s going to do something about it.
Tomlin said on Tuesday that he’s bringing referees into practice this week in order to help his team remain in compliance with the NFL rulebook on gamedays.
“It hurt our efforts on both sides of the ball,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “It hurt our efforts in terms of possessing the ball on offense. We had two critical holding calls in the first half that put us behind the chains and essentially stopped drives. Ball possession and drives, there’s too much scarcity in that discussion to get major penalties and throw yourself behind the chains. We’re just not good enough to overcome those things at this juncture, and quite frankly, I would imagine not many of us in this game are that good at this juncture.
“On the defensive side of the ball, we didn’t play clean enough on the back end on possession downs. They were able to extend drives through DPI and things of that nature. When you get people to that point to where you have them in a third down situation and you have the ball snapped and you’re executing the rush, there’s just too much ground covered to start over and give them a new set of downs. We have to get better in those areas.”
Special teams were also part of the problem, Tomlin said, as the Steelers had a Diontae Johnson punt return touchdown called back due to a block in the back. In total, the Steelers were penalized 10 times for 89 yards.
“We are not only analyzing and openly talking about the penalties, but we are working hard to rectify it,” he said. “We intend to bring some officials to our practice work this week in an effort to make a point of emphasis in that area. That’s important for us. Again, I just thought that was a catalyst for a lot of negativity in the game for us.”
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said after the game that the team felt that “some of the calls weren’t going their way,” but Tomlin said they don’t consider whether or not they think a call should have been made when assessing and evaluating team performance.
“We coach. We don’t officiate the game,” he said “We are not assessing judgment based on what’s called. We are simply acknowledging what is called and we are making whatever necessary change in our behavior to make sure that it is not called moving forward. It’s as simple as that for us.”
Tomlin said the team is still working through the procedures to have the officials they want to use tested and able to be on the practice field at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex when the team returns to work on Wednesday.
Video: Kevin Dotson on First NFL Start, Confidence Level
Steelers rookie guard Kevin Dotson speaks with the media via Zoom after making his first career start in the Steelers second game of the 2020 season against the Denver Broncos.
While DeCastro’s return likely will mean an end to Dotson starting, it’s a testament to his skill and confidence level that he was able to play well in early in a season that lends itself to being more difficult for inexperienced players to fill in.
Steelers Super Bowl Odds Improve After 2-0 Start
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl odds have shortened after their 2-0 start to the season.
Opening the 2020 season at 22/1, the Steelers are now 20/1 to win Super Bowl LV, courtesy of BetOnline.ag.
The Steelers were not the only team to see their prospects rise, with the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers also seeing their odds shorten.
After key injuries and inconsistency to start the year, the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers both have longer odds than where they began.
The Kansas City Chiefs — whose odds remained the same — and the Ravens are currently the favorites to win Super Bowl LV at 5/1.