Jerald Hawkins

Steelers Expected To Place T Jerald Hawkins On IR

The Steelers are expected to place reserve offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins on injured reserve after he underwent surgery to repair his torn quad, a source tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Hawkins will not be a candidate to return from injured reserve, as IR/return players must be carried through to their respective team’s 53-man roster. Given that Hawkins is landing on IR in June, he’s not eligible to come off the list later this season. A surgically-repaired torn quad can have varying recovery times, and can take anywhere from four-to-twelve months to revert to normal use.

Hawkins, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, only has five career appearances and one start under his belt, but he was slated to open the 2018 campaign as Pittsburgh’s backup left tackle behind starter Alejandro Villanueva. With Hawkins sidelined, the Steelers may now turn to rookie third-rounder Chukwuma Okorafor, Matt Feiler, Jake Rodgers, or Joe Cheek as their primary swing tackle.

Given their relative lack of depth, it’s also possible the Steelers turn to the free agent market to look for a veteran tackle. Will Beatty has played that role for both the Giants and Eagles in recent seasons, while other available options include Chris Clark, Greg Robinson, and Chris Hairston.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Steelers, Packers, Vikings

When the Packers signed Byron Bell earlier today, most assumed it was for a reserve, depth role. But now Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press Gazette writes that Bell may end up starting for the Packers. Wood notes that there is concern in the organization about longtime right tackle Bryan Bulaga‘s recovery from his ACL tear.

Bulaga, the Packers’ first-round pick back in 2010, tore his left ACL in week nine of last season. According to Wood, Bulaga is unlikely to be ready for week one, and there’s no real timetable for when he might be ready. Wood thinks placing Bulaga on the PUP list and holding him out at least the first six weeks of the season is a real possibility.

The good news for the Packers is that Bell has plenty of starting experience. He’s started 74 games since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011. There was some talk earlier this offseason that the team could move on from Bulaga after he refused to take a pay cut, but the Packers seem committed to his return for now.

Here’s more from around the league’s northern divisions:

  • It’s yet to be officially diagnosed by team doctors, but Steelers tight end Jake McGee appears to have suffered a torn Achilles in practice, according to Mike Garafalo of NFL Network (Twitter link). McGee spent last year on the practice squad but Garafalo notes that some thought he could make the 53-man roster this year. If it is confirmed to be a torn Achilles, his season will be over.
  • The Steelers suffered another injury during Wednesday’s workout when backup offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins went down with a torn quad (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN). Fowler notes that Hawkins could go on injured reserve, but if he follows the normal timeline for a torn quad, he could be back in time for the regular season.
  • It was reported yesterday that Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr had reported to OTAs after skipping the first few sessions. Now, Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune says that he “wouldn’t be surprised if there were some candid talks in the last week” and adds that the Vikings have a “long and productive” relationship with Barr’s agent (Twitter link). It’s nothing concrete, but it’s another sign that Barr and the Vikings could be inching closer to working something out.

Steelers Trim Roster To 79

The Steelers have placed rookie OT Jerald Hawkins on the reserved/injured list and have waived/injured quarterback Dustin Vaughan, as Ray Fittipaldo of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Per Fittipaldo, the club has also cut the following players:

  • LB Jordan Zumwalt
  • LB Mike Reilly
  • WR Levi Norwood
  • WR Isaac Blakeney
  • TE Michael Cooper
  • DE Giorgio Newberry
  • DT K.K. Mosley-Smith
  • CB Julian Whigham

Zumwalt, the Steelers‘ sixth-round pick in 2014, spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons on injured reserve with a hip injury, and the hip surgery that ended his 2015 campaign before it started took over five hours to complete and included a brutal recovery/rehabilitation period. Zumwalt had been working exclusively at inside linebacker in offseason workouts, but he did not do enough to survive the first round of cuts.

The Steelers now have79 players on their roster and must get down to 75 by Tuesday at 4pm.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/2/16

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • The Steelers have signed fourth-round offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins, as Teresa Varley of Steelers.com writes. Hawkins offers experience at both left and right tackle but he’s expected to play on the left side for Pittsburgh. “He can come in here and help right away by competing and pushing the guys and making them better,” said offensive line coach Mike Munchak. “It just makes the group better when you can bring in a good athlete and a good player that has the ability to compete and help us become better. “We feel this guy can come in and learn from the guys we have, push the guys that we have and now it’s just a matter of how quickly we feel he can contribute.”
  • The Cardinals signed wide receiver Marquis Bundy, safety Tyrequek Zimmerman, and guard Jake Bernstein to return to the 90-man roster limit, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com tweets.
  • The Chargers have agreed to sign guard/tackle Brett Boyko, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • To make room, the Chargers waived offensive lineman Zeth Ramsay, as Eric Williams of ESPN.com tweets. The Bolts now have 17 offensive linemen on their 90-man roster.
  • The Lions announced that they have signed UDFA kicker Devon Bell and waived punter Kyle Christy. Bell, a Mississippi State product, played in all 13 games last year and averaged 62.1 yards per kickoff, while also punting nine times for 370 yards (41.1 avg).
  • The Jaguars have signed guard Patrick Omameh and released offensive lineman Patrick Miller, as Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com tweets. Omameh has played in 30 games over the course of his NFL career.
  • The Redskins signed UDFA wide receiver Jarvis Turner, Master Tesfatsion of The Washington Post tweets.
  • The Seahawks signed fullback Kyle Coleman, as Wilson tweets. A rookie with tight end experience who played at Arkansas State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Coleman will possibly audition at multiple spots in Seattle, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes.
  • The Jets announced that they’ve signed guard Mike Liedtke, while adding that they’ve cleared a roster spot by waiving tackle Luke Marquardt.

NFC Rumors: Cowboys, Giants, Lions

The latest out of the NFC:

  • Defensive end Jason Jones is still in play for the Cowboys, a source tells David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). However, the deal would have to be similar to the one-year, $1.1MM deal that Jack Crawford agreed to with Dallas on Monday.
  • Former Dolphins linebacker Kelvin Sheppard visited the Giants on Monday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • The Giants brought in offensive linemen Ben Ijalana and Byron Stingily for a visit on Monday, as Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets.
  • The Lions‘ pre-draft visits are underway, and the team looked at offensive line prospects on Monday, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, who tweets that tackles Jerald Hawkins (LSU), Shon Coleman (Auburn), Caleb Benenoch (UCLA), and Jason Spriggs (Indiana) are meeting with the Lions.
  • Bowling Green center-guard Alex Huettel worked out for the Lions, a source tells Wilson (on Twitter).
  • Ohio State safety Vonn Bell has (or has had) meetings, workouts, or visits with the Cardinals and Vikings as well as the Jaguars, as Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets.
  • The Saints conducted private workout for Cal wide receiver Darius Powe on Monday, a source tells Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Powe didn’t have any drops, according to a source, and drew praise from New Orleans brass.
  • The Eagles are hosting Florida wide receiver DeMarcus Robinson on a visit, a source tells Geoff Mosher of 97.5 The Fanatic (on Twitter).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Draft Rumors: Ramsey, Alexander, Ravens, Steelers

The Titans, who hold the top pick in this year’s draft, have scheduled a visit with Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, writes Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. Most expect the Titans to take Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil first overall, but they’re nonetheless doing their homework on Ramsey. Should Ramsey get past the Titans, he’ll have a potential suitor in the Cowboys, who pick fourth and have already met with him, tweets Rand Getlin of NFL.com.

More draft news. . .

  • In addition to his previously reported visit with San Francisco, Clemson cornerback and prospective first-round pick Mackensie Alexander will meet with the NFC West rival Rams, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.
  • Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones worked out for the Ravens on Friday, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets. Jones, who projects as a slot cornerback and a return specialist, is viewed as a third- to fourth-round pick. The Baltimore-area native has said that playing for the Ravens would be a “dream come true.” In total, the Ravens had about 40 to 50 players in for a workout, including Jones and two Maryland defenders – Sean Davis (DB) and Quinton Jefferson (DT) – Zrebiec tweets.
  • The Steelers hosted four prospects Friday – safeties Deon Bush (Miami) and Jeremy Cash (Duke), Georgia Tech cornerback David White, and LSU offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins – per Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Hawkins is the second O-lineman the Steelers have met with over the last two days, joining Indiana’s Jason Spriggs (link via Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com).
  • The Buccaneers sent offensive line coach George Warhop to Cincinnati on Friday to work out tackle Justin Murray, reports Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).
  • The Vikings had an assistant spend time on Thursday after Washington’s pro day with linebacker Travis Feeney, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. Feeney had a strong showing at the combine but, unfortunately, had to undergo hernia surgery afterward.
  • Miami defensive lineman Ufomba Kamalu has picked up interest from the Chargers, Panthers, Eagles, Cardinals, and Broncos, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News (via Twitter).
  • The Titans and Vikings met with Indiana defensive tackle Darius Latham on Friday, Pauline reports. Off-field issues, including two suspensions in college, could hurt Latham’s draft stock. If not, he might go as high as the third round.
  • UTEP defender Roy Robertson-Harris is drawing attention, having met with the 49ers and Panthers. He also has visits and/or workouts scheduled with the Raiders, Chiefs, Bears and Vikings.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

LSU LT Jerald Hawkins To Enter NFL Draft

LSU offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins has announced that he will enter the 2016 NFL Draft, as Scott Ferrell of the Shreveport Times writes. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound junior is projected by some to go as high as the first round. Jerald Hawkins (vertical)

After much thought and prayer with my family, I have decided to bypass my final year of eligibility and pursue a career in the NFL,” Hawkins announced on Instagram (Twitter link). “These years at LSU have been nothing short of amazing, but I feel I am ready for the next stage in my athletic career.”

The deadline for underclassmen to declare is January 18th, but Hawkins did not need to take things up until the eleventh hour. After a strong junior season, many expected that Hawkins would pursue his dream of playing in the NFL rather than return for a final year at LSU. With raw power, a big frame, and a wingspan large enough to make any boxer jealous, Hawkins soared when he was moved from right tackle over to the left side.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.