Rashaad Coward

Steelers Place DL Stephon Tuitt On IR

The Steelers will not have one half of their longtime defensive end duo to start the season. Stephon Tuitt will begin the year on IR.

Tuitt has battled a knee injury this summer. This move will sideline the eighth-year defensive lineman for at least the season’s first three games. The Steelers carried Tuitt through to their 53-man roster, but he will not be able to join Cameron Heyward and Co. in uniform until at least October.

Last season marked a return from a separate injury for Tuitt, who saw his 2019 slate end early because of a chest malady. Tuitt returned to have his best year as a pass rusher. The former second-round pick posted 11 sacks and 25 QB hits last season, helping the Steelers to an 11-0 start and the AFC North title.

Pittsburgh also placed offensive tackle Zach Banner and running back Anthony McFarland on IR Wednesday. After missing 15 games last season, Banner was in line to begin this year as the team’s right tackle starter. Those plans will be on hold. Banner began last season as the team’s right tackle but suffered a torn ACL in Week 1. Both players will also be eligible to return in Week 4.

To fill these roster spots, the Steelers brought back O-linemen B.J. Finney and Rashaad Coward, along with cornerback Arthur Maulet. Pittsburgh cut each on Tuesday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Cut Down To 53

The Steelers became the latest team to officially get their roster down to 53 players on Tuesday. More shuffling can be expected in the days to come, but the initial 53 is set. Here’s who didn’t make the cut:

Waived:

Placed on season-ending IR:

Some of these names will certainly be familiar, including Samuels. The 2018 fifth-round pick from N.C. State received a lot of run in his first two years as a hybrid player, and got 113 touches in 2019. He fell out of favor last year, playing sparingly and only getting 18 touches. With the team drafting Najee Harris in the first-round, there was no longer any need for him.

Finney was with the Steelers from 2015-19, and started at least two games in four straight years from 2016-19. But he wasn’t able to crack the 53-man roster in his return after spending last year with the Seahawks and Bengals. Notably, former first-round quarterback Dwayne Haskins has made the initial 53-man roster behind Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph. Dobbs will spend the whole year on IR after getting hurt in the preseason finale.

Steelers To Sign Rashaad Coward

The Steelers’ offensive line group continues to shuffle. Pittsburgh is expected to sign free agent lineman Rashaad Coward, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Coward was a restricted free agent who was not tendered by the Bears, leaving him free to sign with any team. Coward is an interesting player, since when he entered the league as an UDFA out of Old Dominion in 2017 he was a defensive end. He was on defense during his rookie year with Chicago (mostly on the practice squad), and then made the switch to offensive line the following year.

In 2019 he was thrust into starting action despite still being very new to the position after Kyle Long went down with an injury. He started ten games at guard that year. This past season he appeared in all 16 games and started five at left guard, playing just over 30 percent of the offensive snaps.

Since he’s still only 26 and only just recently started playing guard, it’s an intriguing low-risk signing for the Steelers with some upside. Considering they’ve already lost significant pieces of their offensive line like Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler this offseason, it can’t hurt to start throwing darts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Place Kyle Long On IR

The Bears are expected to put right guard Kyle Long on IR, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (Twitter link). That’s obviously disappointing news for Chicago, whose O-line has struggled mightily this year.

Of course, Long is one of the offensive lineman who has underwhelmed, so losing him might not be as big of a blow as it would have been in years past. It seems that time has taken a toll on the 30-year-old Oregon product, who hasn’t started more than nine games since 2016. He has been dealing with a hip injury this year, and it could be that the hip pain has caused his play to suffer.

Even so, he remains an intelligent veteran presence, so he will still be missed. The Bears, 3-2, have a bye this week and will be without Long for at least eight weeks. If the club is still in playoff contention at year’s end, Long could theoretically return for a postseason push. In the meantime, Rashaad Coward may get the nod in Long’s absence.

Long and the Bears agreed to a contract restructure in February that removed the 2021 season from Long’s deal, meaning he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency after the 2020 campaign. But Long was a potential cap casualty before the restructure, so he may have already played his last snap in a Bears uniform.

Extra Points: Broncos, Ravens, Hawks, Bears

Emmanuel Sanders avoided the physically unable to perform list and participated in individual work during Broncos practice on Wednesday, and the veteran wideout is likely to be a “full go” within two-to-three weeks, tweets James Palmer of NFL.com. Now 32 years old, Sanders tore his Achilles in a December practice and missed the remainder of the season. Recent reports have indicated he may not be ready for Week 1, but if he’s ready for full practice sessions by mid-August, his availability for the start of the regular season wouldn’t seem to be in question. Sanders will be the most experienced member of a Denver pass-catching unit that also includes Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was among the Ravens placed on the active/non-football-injury list on Thursday, the club announced. Brown actually did suffer his Lisfranc injury playing football, but he’s been placed on NFI because the injury occurred in college, not the NFL. Active/NFI is different from reserve/NFI in that it doesn’t require Brown to miss any games or any specified amount of action. Rather, when he’s healthy enough to practice (which should be in just a few weeks, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com), he’ll be removed from the list. Brown still counts against Baltimore’s 90-man roster while he’s on active/NFI.
  • Seahawks rookie linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven has been placed on the active/physically unable to perform list, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Like active/NFI, active/PUP won’t force Burr-Kirven to miss any time, but the designation is notable because the first-year defender recently underwent sports hernia surgery. An extremely athletic fifth-round pick, BBK is expected to be ready for training camp, per Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.
  • The Bears moved offensive tackle Bradley Sowell to tight end because they believe converted defensive lineman Rashaad Coward can make the transition to offense, as J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Not only is Coward expected to complete his transition to the offensive side of the ball, he’s likely to be Chicago’s top swing tackle. He’ll have to beat out NFL journeyman Cornelius Lucas for that role, but he reportedly has the edge at the moment.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/13/19

Here is the latest news involving restricted free agents and exclusive-rights free agents, with updates coming throughout the day:

ERFA

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

RFA

Tendered at second-round level: 

Tendered at original-round level:

Non-tendered: 

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/9/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

  • Activated from IR: G Joe Dahl
  • Waived: S Rolan Milligan

Los Angeles Rams

Tennessee Titans

Bears Sign DT John Jenkins

Here today, gone tomorrow, and back again. That’s the story of the Bears and defensive tackle John Jenkins who was released on Saturday and re-signed on Monday. Jenkins takes the place of safety Deiondre’ Hall on the roster after he was placed on injured reserve. John Jenkins (vertical)

Jenkins, 28, first signed on with the Bears in March. He’ll help to provide depth behind starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman in Vic Fangio‘s 3-4 set. Jenkins bounced around in 2016 but he was a 12-game starter for New Orleans as recently as 2015.

The Bears also signed nine players to the practice squad: