Steelers sign three, place three on IR
The Steelers lost three key players in a rash of injuries in their opening 16-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans the past weekend. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey tore both his ACL and MCL, starting linebacker Larry Foote suffered ruptured biceps while running back LaRod Stephens-Howling suffered a torn ACL as well. With all three players scheduled to undergo surgeries that are likely to keep them out for the rest of the season, the Steelers opted to make the most of those roster spots instead. The team placed all three injured players on the reserve/ injured list.
Subsequently, the Steelers re-signed running back Jonathan Dwyer and added offensive line depth by signing center/guard Fernando Velasco one of the open roster spots. With Shaun Shuisham also dealing with a hamstring injury that limited his kicking ability last Sunday, the Steelers added veteran kicker Shayne Graham at the position. Graham will kick for the Steelers until Shuisham’s leg heals.
The 24-year-old Dwyer led the Steelers in rushing yards last season but couldn’t survive the final roster cuts this year. The fourth-year veteran Dwyer will re-join a Steelers’ running back group that is already without rookie Le’Veon Bell who is out with a mild foot-sprain. The Steelers’ running backs struggled against the Titans as they averaged a combined 2.1 yards on 15 carries last week.
Bell remains hopeful that he can get a piece of the Week 2 action against the Houston Texans. But he also cautiously added that his return in Week 2 can only result under a best-case scenario, for which he will need to be fully healthy.
Meanwhile, Velasco started all 16-games for the Titans last season – with three of those starts at left guard – but lost his job to free agent pick up Rob Turner this offseason. Velasco was among the Titans’ final roster cuts on Aug. 31. Since entering the league as a undrafted free agent with the Titans in 2008, Velasco started 19 of 48 games team during his first five NFL season.
Velasco is expected to share the duties across the middle of the Steelers’ line with Cody Wallace, who also replaced Pouncey in Sunday’s game.
The 35-year-old Graham has been 15 different NFL teams while playing for eight of them – including all three of the Steelers' divisional rivals – most recently the Cleveland Browns who signed him in April and before releasing him in the 53-man cuts this August. Graham spent most of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals (2003-2009).
Graham has a field goal percentage of 85.4, the seventh-best in league history.