Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Steelers bring back rookie WR, forego promising CB

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On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson to the practice squad and brought him back a week after his release to make room for linebacker Ryan Anderson.

Roberson – 6ft 1 and 190lbs – originally joined the team’s training squad on September 7th. He is an undrafted rookie free agent who first entered the NFL with the Cowboys but was waived in the preseason when Dallas reduced its roster to 80 players.

And while Roberson has yet to prove himself worthy of a regular-season role in the NFL, he excelled during his four seasons at Wake Forest.

“Production for Roberson in the ACC was booming,” Kyle Youmans wrote after the 24-year-old joined the Cowboys in May, using a word familiar to former Steelers receiver Antonio Brown frequently called when describing his skills on and off the field.

Roberson appeared in 40 total games for the Demon Deacons, catching 146 passes for 2,158 yards and 17 touchdowns. Even more notable is that he had eight touchdowns in each of his last two college seasons and holds the school’s all-season record for receiving yards per game, having averaged 102.9 yards per contest in 2020.

After Roberson’s re-signing, the Steelers currently have two wide receivers on the practice team, the other being Cody White.

Cody is the son of Steelers director of pro scouting Sheldon White, who was hired on May 25, 2022, shortly after Andy Weidl came on board as assistant general manager.

To make room for Roberson in the practice squad, the Steelers relinquished cornerback Mark Gilbert, who signed September 1 with Pittsburgh’s practice squad. Though Gilbert’s (second) stint at Pittsburgh was brief, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was brought back later in the year, having enjoyed some success with the Detroit Lions last season.

Keep in mind that Gilbert — the cousin of former four-time first-team All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and nephew of former No. 3 overall pick Sean Gilbert — originally joined the Steelers on May 7, 2021.

Despite failing to pull Pittsburgh’s 53-man roster out of training camp, he subsequently signed with the practice team, where he remained until the Lions poached him on October 12 last year.

He appeared in eight games for Detroit and played a total of 47 defensive snaps and 27 special teams snaps, according to the Pro Football Reference. During that time he was credited with three tackles and one pass separation. He also forced a fumble from Diontae Johnson during overtime in the Lions-Steelers game last November, which helped a then-winless Lions team preserve a 16-16 tie.

With Gilbert now off the practice team, the Steelers only have one cornerback among their current 16 players. That would be Josh Jackson, a 2018 Green Bay Packers (Iowa) second-round pick who was signed on Labor Day and has 15 regular-season starts on his résumé.

The Steelers go into next Thursday night’s game much healthier than the Browns. Pittsburgh only had one player in their first injury report of the week, linebacker Devin Bush. Cleveland listed eight players in its injury report, including former Steelers tight end Jesse James, who signed with the Browns shortly after practicing for the team on September 1.

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