The Steelers filled out their practice squad by signing rookie running back John Clay, tight end Jamie McCoy, offensive tackle Trevis Turner, and Guard John Malecki. Tyler Grisham will return to the practice squad for a third season.
On defense the Steelers added defensive lineman Corbin Byrant, linebacker Mortty Ivy and Defensive back Da’Mon Cromartie Smith.
Conspicuous by his absences was Keith Williams, the team’s 6th round pick in the 2011NFL draft. Very early in camp Williams had been discussed as a possible starter at guard, but faded as training camp and preseason wore on.
Tony Hills was not brought back, but numerous reports have confirmed that the Steelers attempt to switch him to guard amounted to the 2008 4th round draft pick’s final chance to carve out a role for himself on the team. A rough ending for someone whom Jim Wexell, writing in Steelers Digest, once hailed as the “next John Jackson.”
The Steelers did lose Crezdon Butler, Pittsburgh’s 5th round pick in the 2010 NFL draft, whom they certainly would have wanted to add to the practice squad. Butler however was signed by Pittsburgh West, aka the Arizona Cardinals, where former Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton is defensive coordinator.
Speculation remains that the Steelers might continue to tinker with their roster. Weslye Saunders made the roster and many are already saying he could be another in a long line of Kevin Colbert’s undrafted rookie free agent coups.
Saunders, however, is much more of a pass catcher than run blocker, and the Steelers not only expect their tight ends to block, but would also like to free David Johnson to line up in the backfield as an H-Back.
The smart money says the Steelers sight tight with Saunders.
There has also been speculation that either Max Starks or Flozell Adams will get a call on September 12th. when the Steelers can sign them to their roster without being forced to pay them for the entire season.