Damontae Kazee

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/10/24

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Dolphins now have an all-30-something set of pass rushers set to pressure Patrick Mahomes on Saturday. Three of them — Ingram, Justin Houston, Bruce Irvin — were not with the team going into December. Ingram rejoined the Dolphins last month and has played in three games as a practice squad elevation. The 34-year-old edge rusher saw his season snap share spike following the injuries to Bradley Chubb and Andrew Van Ginkel. Ingram played 58 defensive plays against the Bills.

Steelers S Damontae Kazee Suspended For Remainder Of Season

DECEMBER 20: Kazee’s appeal of his season-long suspension has been deemed successful, at least partially. According to NFL senior vice president of football & international communications Michael Signora, while James Thrash, the hearing officer jointly appointed to the case by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, upheld Kazee’s suspension for the remainder of the regular season, he also ruled that Kazee would be eligible to return to the active roster if the Steelers were to qualify for the postseason. If Pittsburgh fails to make the playoffs, then we have seen the last of Kazee in the 2023 NFL season.

DECEMBER 18: The Steelers will be without Damontae Kazee for the rest of the 2023 campaign, regardless of if the team makes it to the playoffs. The veteran safety has been suspended for the remainder of the year, as noted by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Kazee was ejected for a hit on Colts wideout Michael Pittman Jr. on Saturday. Pittman is now in concussion protocol after Kazee’s most recent hit which was penalized for unnecessary roughness. The 30-year-old’s history in that department was noted in the press release detailing the suspension, and his second season with the Steelers is now set to come to a premature end.

Kazee could appeal the ban, one which will see him miss games against the Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens. Having lost three straight games, the Steelers are in a much worse position for the playoffs than they were recently. Pittsburgh could still manage to secure a wild-card berth, though, in which case Kazee’s absence would be acutely felt.

The former Falcons fifth-rounder has seen a much larger workload in 2023 than last season. Kazee’s defensive snap share (81%) is the third-highest of his career, and he has been a productive player on the backend. The San Diego State product has posted 61 tackles, two interceptions, three pass deflections and two fumble recoveries this year. Especially with Minkah Fitzpatrick set to miss at least Week 16, Kazee’s loss will deal a blow to Pittsburgh’s secondary.

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reports that Kazee will indeed appeal the suspension. Regardless of how much time he misses, he has already lost over $267K in fines overt the course of the season, a figure which will increase unless the ban is rescinded altogether. A best-case scenario for Kazee and the Steelers, realistically, would involve the suspension being reduced to a degree.

Broncos safety Kareem Jackson managed to appeal a four-game suspension down to two earlier in the season, but he has since been hit with another four-game ban. This marks Kazee’s first suspension of the season, but his accumulation of discipline from the league (which includes five fines for unnecessary roughness) will no doubt be a factor in the appeals process. While it will interesting to see if he manages to see the field again in 2023, Kazee figures to be out of the lineup for the time being.

Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick Expected To Play

While the Steelers will continue to deal with a number of defenders being on injured reserve, they are set to return a leader on that side of the ball in safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. According to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, Fitzpatrick is set to appear in his first game in four weeks this Sunday against the Cardinals.

Fitzpatrick had to make his exit early into the team’s loss to the Jaguars back in October with a hamstring injury. Pittsburgh didn’t think they would need to place its veteran safety on IR, hoping to see him return sooner rather than later, but after four weeks without their vocal leader, gaining an extra roster spot by placing him on IR would’ve been the preferred move in retrospect.

The extended absence is the first of Fitzpatrick’s storied career. In the five and a half seasons until this absence, Fitzpatrick has appeared in 86 of a possible 89 games, starting in 81. Fitpatrick had never missed consecutive games either, with the three absences being one-game situations. Even when the former Dolphin was traded two weeks into the season from Miami, he was in black and yellow six days later without missing a snap.

In Fitzpatrick’s first multi-game absence, the team had to promote practice squad safety Trenton Thompson to the active roster. Keanu Neal and Elijah Riley were filling in the first few weeks before finding their way to IR. Thompson has performed well for being thrown into the fire, but the Steelers will be excited to return Fitzpatrick next to strong safety Damontae Kazee this weekend.

Steelers To Re-Sign S Damontae Kazee

Damontae Kazee is staying in Pittsburgh. The free agent safety is re-signing with the Steelers, according to Matt Lombardo of Heavy (via Twitter).

Kazee joined the Steelers last offseason on a one-year deal. A broken forearm (coupled with a three-game suspension) delayed his start to the season, but he still managed to get in nine games for his new squad. When all was said and done, the safety finished his first season in Pittsburgh with two interceptions and two passes defended.

The former fifth-round pick led the NFL with seven interceptions during the 2018 season. He was limited to only four games during his final season with the Falcons before joining the Cowboys in 2021. He started 15 of his 17 games for Dallas that season but still had to settle for a one-year deal from Pittsburgh last offseason.

Kazee will provide Pittsburgh’s secondary with some consistency in 2023. With Cameron Sutton gone, the team will be counting on free agent acquisition Patrick Peterson to fill a major void.

Steelers Place K Chris Boswell On IR, Activate S Damontae Kazee

The Steelers are up a defender but down a key special teamer. The team announced that they’ve activated safety Damontae Kazee from IR and placed kicker Chris Boswell on injured reserve.

Kazee inked a one-year, $1.19MM deal with the Steelers back in May after having spent the 2021 season in Dallas. The 29-year-old suffered a broken arm and dislocated wrist towards the end of the preseason, landing him on IR after 53-man rosters were set. Kazee returned to practice in October.

Kazee has plenty of starting experience, starting 15 games for the Cowboys in 2021 and 34 games for the Falcons between 2017 and 2020. The veteran will serve as an experienced option behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds.

“At the end of the day we have to make plays, get turnovers, give our offense another opportunity to go score some points,” Kazee said (via the team’s website). “We just have to trust our keys. Trust everything the coaches are giving us. Execute the plays. At the end of the day, they can call out any play. We just have to execute it. That’s what we need to do more.

“We just have to work together. We’ve got to be brothers. You just have to do your job so your brother can do his. Everybody’s job is important. Make sure we do what we have to do, execute the plays and come out with a win.”

Boswell missed Week 8 with a groin injury, and despite getting an extra week of rest with the bye, he’ll now be sidelined for at least the next four games. The veteran kicker has connected on 12 of his 16 field goal attempts and all nine of his extra point tries this season. Nick Sciba filled in for Boswell in Week 8, but the Steelers recently signed Matthew Wright off the Chiefs practice squad to fill in for Boswell going forward.

Injury Updates: Cowboys, Vikings, Steelers, Seahawks

Ezekiel Elliott is expected back this weekend. After the star running back missed Week 8, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that he expects Elliott to be back on the field against the Packers on Sunday, per Jon Machota of The Athletic (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Elliott himself told Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that his knee is getting better and the swelling has decreased (Twitter link). If the RB does return this weekend, he acknowledged that he’ll wear a knee brace.

Elliott has started each of his seven appearances this season. While his 63.3 rushing yards per game is about on-par with his recent performance, his yards-per-touch is currently a career-low mark (4.1). Backup Tony Pollard showed up when he earned an opportunity to start prior to the bye, finishing with 131 rushing yards on 14 carries. Despite the numbers, Jones made it clear that he’s sticking with Elliott atop the depth chart.

“There’s no argument,” Jones recently said of replacing Elliott as the starting RB. “Zeke’s ability to punish, Zeke’s ability to deliver, Zeke’s ability, what he does for us in pass protection, and, frankly, Zeke’s ability to make big plays are there, and we’re going to go as Zeke goes. I really mean he’s that integral to our success this year.”

Some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Meanwhile, Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith is about two or three weeks away from returning to practice, Stephen Jones recently said (via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas News on Twitter). If Smith requires his entire three-week window to get back into game shape, then the lineman could be eyeing a late-December return. The veteran offensive lineman suffered a hamstring injury during training camp that’s sidelined him for the first chunk of the season.
  • While Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. landed on injured reserve earlier this month thanks to an ankle issue, the injury likely won’t require surgery, coach Kevin O’Connell said (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter). Smith Jr. hasn’t started a game yet this season but has put up his standard numbers, hauling in 22 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns through seven games.
  • Damontae Kazee is expected to be activated off IR this week, and the Steelers safety provided some information on the injury that’s knocked him out for the first few months of the season. In addition to breaking his whole forearm, Kazee also suffered a dislocated wrist that “popped back into place during surgery,” per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor on Twitter. When he next takes the field, he’ll be armed with a padded brace to protect his arm. Kazee joined the Steelers this past offseason after starting 15 games for the Cowboys in 2021. Coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged how much veterans like Kazee and trade-deadline acquisition William Jackson III will help the defense. “Anytime you get veteran presences, it is an asset to you,” Tomlin said (via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic). “Been-there, done-that guys, and those guys are that.”
  • Seahawks linebacker/special teams ace Cullen Gillaspia injured his knee on Sunday and will need surgery, according to ESPN’s Brady Henderson (on Twitter). Fortunately, the injury isn’t as bad as initially feared, but Gillaspia is still expected to be sidelined for some time. The former seventh-round pick joined the Seahawks practice squad back in September, but he’s since appeared in six games while playing the majority of Seattle’s special teams snaps.

Steelers Still Eyeing Week 10 T.J. Watt Return

Last week, the Steelers opened the IR-return window on T.J. Watt, leading to questions of when they would envision his return. Despite this Sunday marking the second week in which the defending Defensive Player of the Year could be activated, that remains unlikely to happen.

Watt has been sidelined since suffering a major pectoral injury in Week 1. The fact that he was able to rehab it left the door open to a return at some point in the season, but it came as no surprise that he was placed on IR. His timeline to see the field was pushed back, however, when he underwent knee surgery just under one month ago.

Given Pittsburgh’s struggles this year, along with Watt’s crucial importance to the team, the Steelers have remained understandably cautious with him. Indeed, as confirmed by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Week 10 has always remained the target with respect to Watt’s return (Twitter link). That contest against the Saints would be the last opportunity for Watt to be activated; if he fails to return by next week, he will be out for the remainder of the season.

While Pittsburgh sits at 2-6, leaving their chances of a postseason berth – or, at a minimum, extending their streak of never having a losing season during the Mike Tomlin era – in serious doubt, Watt returning to the fold would of course be a welcomed sight. In his absence, the team ranks 21st in the league with 15 sacks, a far cry from their normal position in that regard during the 28-year-old’s standout career.

The Steelers are on their bye this week, which gives both Watt and safety Damontae Kazee time to ease back into game shape. While November 13 will be the team’s first contest since trading away Chase Claypool in a significant move on offense, then, it should also see a pair of important defenders make their return to the field.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/20/22

Today’s minor transactions:

Dallas Cowboys

Pittsburgh Steelers

Basham suffered a quad injury in Week 1 that landed him on injured reserve. The defensive lineman joined the Cowboys last season, finishing with 39 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 17 games (six starts). The 28-year-old saw time in 18 defensive snaps in Week 1 before suffering his injury.

Kazee landed on IR after the preseason, and he now has a three-week window to return to the roster. The defensive back joined Pittsburgh this offseason after spending the 2021 campaign in Dallas, where he had 52 tackles, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles in 17 games (15 starts).

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/21/22

Today’s minor transactions:

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Signed off Rams practice squad: DE Benton Whitley

Los Angeles Rams

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Kazee was suspended three games for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse. After signing with the Steelers this offseason, he landed on injured reserve after the preseason. Per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor (on Twitter), Kazee will be allowed to serve his suspension while he’s on IR.

Hopkins was also suspended three games for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse.

Steelers Move WR Calvin Austin, S Damontae Kazee To IR

One of the two rookie wideouts the Steelers drafted this year will not start the season on time. Calvin Austin III joins safety Damontae Kazee in being moved to IR ahead of Week 1.

Because Pittsburgh carried both through to IR following Tuesday’s roster cut, each can return after four games. The NFL both increased the IR-return timetable from three games to four this season and, after unlimited IR comebacks could ensue in 2020 and 2021, limited players coming off IR to eight this year.

With Austin and Kazee shifting off the roster for the first four weeks, the Steelers re-signed linebacker Marcus Allen and offensive lineman Trent Scott. Allen has been with the team since 2018, while Scott — a Panthers spot starter over the past two seasons — initially caught on with Pittsburgh in May.

After flashing this offseason, Austin sustained a foot injury that has forced him to miss time. The Steelers took the Memphis in the fourth round (138th overall), doing so just before the Ravens planned to select him. The Austin pick came two rounds after Pittsburgh selected George Pickens. Pittsburgh’s second-rounder is expected to join Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool as the team’s top receivers. The Steelers, as they are wont to do, reloaded in the draft at the position — after letting JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington walk in free agency.

The Steelers had prepared to place Kazee on IR since his injury in their preseason finale. A 15-game Cowboys starter last season, Kazee is expected to miss extensive time due to a wrist injury. The Steelers placed safety Karl Joseph on IR before the season, but because they waited until after setting their roster to shift Kazee to the injured list, the latter is eligible to return during the year.