Pat Freiermuth

Steelers To Activate TE Pat Freiermuth, Place S Keanu Neal On IR

NOVEMBER 18, 2:58pm: The Steelers officially announced Freiermuth’s activation this afternoon, along with a number of other Saturday transactions. Joining Freiermuth on the active roster will be practice squad linebacker Mykal Walker, whom the team was hoping to involve more with Kwon Alexander on injured reserve.

In order to make room on the roster, Pittsburgh has placed starting safety Keanu Neal on injured reserve. Neal joined his fourth team in as many years this offseason and has made the most of it, becoming a starter for the Steelers. He hasn’t had the strongest season, grading out as the league’s 62nd-best safety, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Neal’s absence will likely mean a bigger role for fellow safety Damontae Kazee, who was teammates with Neal from 2017-2021 during stints in Atlanta and Dallas.

Lastly, the Steelers announced their standard gameday practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s game in Cleveland. The team will promote LB Tariq Carpenter and safety Trenton Thompson for the matchup. Thompson’s callup fills out the depth chart a bit with Neal gone. Carpenter will team up with Walker to provide some reinforcements at linebacker with Alexander hurt.

NOVEMBER 18, 8:45am: The quick ramp-up period will be sufficient for the Steelers, who will activate Freiermuth at the earliest opportunity. Freiermuth will end up spending the minimum four games on IR, with’s Tom Pelissero indicating he will move back onto Pittsburgh’s active roster before this afternoon’s deadline. While the former second-round pick has not played since Week 4, a hamstring aggravation is responsible for the extended absence. This transaction will leave the Steelers with four IR activations remaining.

NOVEMBER 15: Pat Freiermuth‘s third NFL season has not gone as hoped, but the Steelers are moving closer to having their tight end ready for the stretch run. The team designated the young pass catcher for return Wednesday.

This will start Feiermuth’s 21-day activation clock. The Steelers placed Freiermuth on IR due to a hamstring injury last month. While Freiermuth did not initially land on IR due to the injury, an aggravation led to the Steelers moving him off their 53-man roster.

The Steelers have moved to 6-3 despite persistent struggles on offense, but the team has missed Freiermuth and Diontae Johnson for extended chunks of the season. Johnson returned from his hamstring injury weeks ago, and it appears another activation will soon commence after a hamstring malady. This will be good news for Kenny Pickett, who targeted the 2021 second-round pick frequently in his first season as Pittsburgh’s starter.

Last year, Freiermuth finished with 63 receptions for 732 yards and two touchdowns. While his yards-per-reception and touchdown numbers were down compared to his rookie year, the Penn State product’s yardage total dwarfed his rookie-year number (497). Pickett and Mitch Trubisky targeted the talented tight end regularly, and the Steelers came into this season expecting another steady showing from the 6-foot-5 weapon.

Freiermuth has not played since Week 4, and he struggled to find his footing in the latest Matt Canada-run Pittsburgh offense. Freiermuth finished three games with fewer than 10 receiving yards, and although Week 4 involved an early exit, Weeks 1 and 2 brought sluggish outings. Freiermuth has eight receptions for 53 yards and two TDs this season. In his absence, the Steelers have seen Connor Heyward work as their top receiving tight end. The second-year option has 17 catches for 137 yards. Third-round rookie Darnell Washington has not factored in prominently, exiting Week 10 with three grabs for 23 yards.

Steelers Activate WR Diontae Johnson, Place TE Pat Freiermuth On IR

The Steelers will welcome back a key member of their offense, but they’re also set to lose their starting tight end for at least the next month. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Steelers have activated wide receiver Diontae Johnson from injured reserve. To make room on the roster, the Steelers have placed tight end Pat Freiermuth on injured reserve.

Johnson suffered a hamstring injury during the season opener that ultimately required a stint on injured reserve. The receiver was designated to return to practice earlier this week, opening his 21-day window to be activated.

The former third-round pick has been a productive member of the Steelers offense through his first four seasons in the NFL. Johnson earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2021 after finishing with 107 catches for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns. With Kenny Pickett taking over for Ben Roethlisberger in 2022, Johnson’s numbers took a bit of a step back, with the receiver finishing the campaign with 86 catches for 882 yards and no touchdowns.

George Pickens has picked up the slack through the first chunk of the season, hauling in 22 catches for 393 yards. Allen Robinson and Calvin Austin have combined for only 280 yards, so Johnson will surely provide a spark to Pittsburgh’s offense.

“I am very excited. It’s been a long process, fighting to get back. I am looking forward to showing them I am ready for Sunday,” Johnson said this week (via the team’s website).

Freiermuth suffered a hamstring injury in Week 4 that forced him to miss the following week’s game, but the tight end was expected to be good to go following the Week 6 bye. Freiermuth aggravated the hamstring injury during practice this week, and now he’ll miss at least the next four games while recovering from the injury.

The former second-round pick had a standout sophomore season in 2022, finishing with 63 catches for 732 yards. He’s struggled to put up similar production in 2023, even with Johnson out of the lineup. In four games, Freiermuth has hauled in only eight passes for 53 yards.

Rookie third-round pick Darnell Washington should jump to the top of the depth chart with Freiermuth out. The Steelers are also rostering Connor Heyward and Rodney Williams at the position, with Noah Gindorff currently sitting on the practice squad.

Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth Facing Multi-Week Absence

The Steelers’ offense will be down another starter for the time being. Tight end Pat Freiermuth is expected to miss two to three weeks with a hamstring injury, reports Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The team’s passing attack is already without wideout Diontae Johnson, who is on injured reserve due to his own hamstring ailment. Losing Freiermuth for an overlapping stretch will leave the Steelers without their top pass-catcher at the TE spot and thus hinder a passing attack which has failed to live up to expectations so far in 2023.

The 2021 second-rounder recorded at least 60 catches in each of his first two seasons in Pittsburgh, proving his value as a consistent complimentary option on offense. This year, however, Freiermuth has posted just eight grabs for 53 yards (though two of them have resulted in touchdowns). In spite of the underwhelming totals, his absence will be felt on a unit which does not feature a similarly established option at the position.

Pittsburgh has 2022 sixth-rounder Connor Heyward – who has made 14 catches to date in his career – and third-round rookie Darnell Washington available as replacements. The latter, who established himself as an athletic standout in a deep tight end class at the Combine and proved to be a highly effective blocker at Georgia, has received only one target to date. That total will likely increase in the near future with Freiermuth unavailable.

The status of quarterback Kenny Pickett is uncertain at this point after he exited the Steelers’ Week 4 loss with a knee injury. That ailment is not serious, though, meaning he could suit up for Week 5. Regardless of who is under center for Pittsburgh – a team which has the bye coming up in Week 6 – this Sunday, the offense’s skill-position corps will be shorthanded. With the Steelers’ offense coming under fire after a 2-2 start, it will be interesting to see how the unit fares at less than full strength.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Jones, Ravens

A bit of a controversy developed in Pittsburgh this week. Mitch Trubisky and Diontae Johnson engaged in a shouting match during halftime of the Steelers-Jets contest, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, adding that this provided the impetus for Trubisky’s benching. Mike Tomlin did not confirm or deny a shouting match between the quarterback and the team’s highest-paid wideout ensued, though Johnson essentially confirmed a football-related argument took place. But The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly adds the dispute was not the deciding factor in the 16th-year coach moving to Kenny Pickett for the second half of that game. Johnson wanted more targets from Trubisky in that Week 4 game, Dulac adds, leading to the team’s original starter standing up to the fourth-year receiver.

Tomlin benched Trubisky primarily due to his underwhelming performance during the season’s first month, with Kaboly adding he had already decided to go with Pickett. Trubisky sat throughout Week 5 but played well when reinserted into Pittsburgh’s lineup following Pickett’s Week 6 concussion. Despite a bounce-back relief effort against the Buccaneers, Trubisky is set to return to the bench. Pickett cleared concussion protocol Friday and is in line to start against the Dolphins, Tomlin said. Levi Wallace and Pat Freiermuth also cleared the protocol, arming the Steelers with key starters.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • It looks likely Deion Jones will make his Browns debut Sunday. The team held off from activating the recently acquired linebacker from IR last week, giving the longtime Falcons starter more time after designating him for return. Jones is progressing fast in Joe Woods‘ defense, per linebackers coach Jason Tarver (via’s Mary Kay Cabot, on Twitter). Tarver said Jones could be in position to wear the green dot, signifying headset communication, in the near future. The Browns, who lost Anthony Walker to a season-ending injury in Week 3, acquired the six-year Atlanta cog for merely a 2024 pick swap.
  • Cleveland will be without multiple Pro Bowlers against Baltimore, however. The Browns ruled out Wyatt Teller and Denzel Ward for their divisional matchup. Teller is battling a calf strain, while Ward will miss a second consecutive game due to a concussion he suffered in Week 5.
  • Ben Powers has operated as the Ravens‘ left guard this season, winning a training camp competition. While 2021 third-round pick Ben Cleveland was nominally in that battle, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes the younger Ben in this matchup did not mount a serious push at winning the job opposite Kevin Zeitler. The Ravens have been frustrated with Cleveland’s inability to practice consistently due to injuries, Zrebiec adds. Cleveland missed the first week of training camp due to a failed conditioning test and has missed the past two games due to a foot injury. The Ravens did see Cleveland return to practice Thursday. Cleveland, who started four games last season, has not played an offensive snap this year. Baltimore was holding a three-player competition for the job Powers won. The third entrant, Tyre Phillips, is now with the Giants.

Week 5 Injury Roundup: Mayfield, Hill, Williams, Concussions

The Panthers’ losing streak continued yesterday, leading to questions not only about head coach Matt Rhule‘s job security, but also Baker Mayfield‘s hold on the No. 1 quarterback job. Performance may not affect the ability of the latter to suit up for Week 6, however, as he was seen in a walking boot after the team’s loss to the 49ers.

“A little painful right now,” he said when asked about the injury to his left foot. “I’m not real sure exactly what it is. We’ll examine that tomorrow and find out. So right now I’m managing the pain and learning to step in the boot.”

Mayfield will undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, per Ellis Williams of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). With Sam Darnold still on the mend from the ankle injury he sustained in the preseason, and rookie Matt Corral out for the season, the Panthers would turn to P.J. Walker should Mayfield miss any time. The former XFLer game into last night’s contest for Carolina’s final possession, as Mayfield was suffering from the effects of the injury and the score was out of reach.

Here are some other injury updates following the league’s Week 5 action:

  • Tyreek Hill was also seen in a walking boot following Miami’s loss to the Jets (Twitter link via ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques). Head coach Mike McDaniel said that he was stepped on late in the contest, leaving his Week 6 availability in the air. Hill has been exactly what the Dolphins paid for (in draft capital and financial commitments) so far, with 38 catches for 528 yards and two touchdowns. His average of just under 105 receiving yards per game is the highest of his career, so any absence would be significant for the team’s offense.
  • The Ravens’ defense delivered a noteworthy performance last night against the Bengals, but lost a key member of the unit along the way. Head coach John Harbaugh said after the game that safety Marcus Williams dislocated his wrist, and will miss a “significant” amount of time as a result. That will deal a major blow to Baltimore’s secondary, as the high-priced free agent signing has been productive this season with three interceptions and five pass deflections.
  • While Dolphins QB Teddy Bridgewater earned the unwanted distinction of becoming the league’s first player to be removed via the new concussion protocols yesterday, he was not alone in that regard. Per team announcements, Saints wideout Chris Olave, Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth and Browns cornerback Denzel Ward were each ruled out of their teams’ respective games with concussions. Under the new regulations, it has been acknowledged, some players will be removed from games and not allowed to return despite passing initial checks for concussion symptoms.
  • Going back to the TNF contest which kicked off Week 5, the Broncos’ injury woes continue. Long snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer will miss “extended time” after suffering an injury to the hand/wrist area, 9News’ Mike Klis tweets. Losing the 25-year-old for the foreseeable future will add to the league-leading 12 players the Broncos already have on IR, which have no doubt contributed to the team’s underwhelming start to the season.

Steelers Sign Round 2 TE Pat Freiermuth

The Steelers are nearly done signing their 2021 draft picks. Shortly after they agreed to terms with first-rounder Najee Harris, the Steelers announced second-round selection Pat Freiermuth signed his rookie deal.

Freiermuth played three seasons at Penn State and declared for the draft after his junior year. Staying in Pennsylvania to start his pro career, Freiermuth profiles as Pittsburgh’s long-term tight end hopeful. Eric Ebron remains on the Steelers’ roster, but he is under contract through the end of the 2021 season only. Feiermuth is set to earn $6MM over four years, with a $1.74MM signing bonus.

Penn State used Freiermuth frequently in the red zone; the 6-foot-5 tight end totaled 15 touchdown receptions between his freshman and sophomore seasons. Freiermuth topped out at 507 receiving yards as a sophomore but still managed north of 300 in a four-game 2020 slate. He suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery last November. Even playing just three seasons, one of which abbreviated by injury and the COVID-19 pandemic, Freiermuth totaled 16 career touchdown catches — a Penn State tight end record.

Despite glaring offensive line needs, the Steelers went with Freiermuth with the No. 55 overall pick. That certainly reveals confidence he could become their sought-after Heath Miller replacement as a long-term option at the position. Of the Steelers’ draftees, only third-rounder Kendrick Green is unsigned.