On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers released the list of players they brought back to the team as members of their practice squad. They did not, however, completely fill it, leaving one spot open. There is a real possibility that they may still be evaluating players across the league to fill that position, just as there are possibilities that the list is not finalized ahead of their 2019-20 NFL regular-season opener against the New England Patriots.
Players on the squad
In total, the Steelers signed nine players, including four on defense and five on offense. Tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson, a player involved with the NFL's International Player Pathway program is included in the list but does not count against the 10-player league limit for practice squads.
Looking at the players on the offensive side of the ball, there are familiar faces that returned. Trey Edmunds, brother of Terrell Edmunds, who finished the 2018-19 regular season on the active roster with Pittsburgh, took one spot. Receiver Tevin Jones, who signed a reserve/futures contract during the offseason and who spent time last season on the practice squad as an undrafted free agent will get an opportunity as well. Seventh-round selection (2019 NFL Draft) and former Maryland offensive lineman Derwin Gray was re-signed; his placement on the practice squad will allow the Steelers to continue to evaluate his progress and give him an opportunity to improve his game. Patrick Morris, who has played center and offensive guard, and tight end Kevin Rader round out the players on the offense.
As for defense, the Steelers placed players on the practice squad that give them added depth. Marcus Allen, who played in two games during the 2018 regular season after being drafted by the Steelers that year, will stay with the team and is listed at safety. Fellow defensive back Trevon Mathis (signed during the offseason), makes the squad at corner. Undrafted free agent defensive end Henry Mondeaux (Oregon) spent time with the New Orleans Saints before he signed with the Steelers during the offseason and had a good preseason with Pittsburgh. Finally, linebacker Robert Spillane who originally signed with the Tennessee Titans as a rookie minicamp tryout before being signed by the Steelers during the offseason rounds out the squad on the defensive side of the ball.
Joe Kuzma and I predicted many of the players the Steelers placed on their scout team, and I can't say that I'm disappointed with who Pittsburgh chose to keep with the team at this point.
With one spot open, the Steelers have some room to do a further evaluation before finalizing their practice squad. They have decent depth at nearly every position, but there has been chatter on social media that Pittsburgh may still be in the market for a tight end. They could also be looking for more help at cornerback/defensive back.
At this point, most talk about filling the spot is speculation. More moves may occur if it is determined that they need to put someone on the current roster on injured/reserved (Anthony Chickillo or Olasunkanmi Adeniyi come to mind) with Ryan Shazier. The practice squad and initial roster are somewhat fluid; the PS more so than the 53-man list.
What the Steelers have done with the guys they brought into camp, however, has shown that they're interested in keeping the team in competitive status.
Prior to publishing this article, the Steelers still had one remaining practice squad spot to fill, which occurred shortly after this went to "print". The team signed WR Johnny Holton to fill the vacancy.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 2, 2019