Today the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the release of former XFL and Penn State University wide receiver Saeed Blacknall. A roster move was not unexpected as Pittsburgh needed to make room for its most-recent free agent signing, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud.
Blacknall has been a journeyman since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent signee of the Raiders in 2018. After being waived by the Raiders last summer, he spent time in training camp with the Miami Dolphins, then was added to the practice squad of the Arizona Cardinals in December 2019. He has appeared in a single NFL game, playing 16 snaps on offense for the Raiders in 2018.
The Steelers decided to sign Blacknall after seeing him in action with the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL this spring. In three XFL games he caught a mere four passes, but two went for touchdowns and he averaged 30 yards per reception.
Blacknall played his college ball at Penn State, appearing in 34 games over the course of four years. He totaled 50 receptions for 979 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Steelers signed a host of former XFL players this spring but only four remain with the team, those being defensive tackle Cavon Walker (University of Maryland), offensive lineman Jarron Jones (Notre Dame), offensive tackle Anthony Coyle (Fordham) and center John Keenoy (Western Michigan).
Recent FA Acquisition Curtis Riley Impresses
In other news from today, recent free agent acquisition Curtis Riley has apparently been looking good at practice. According to Bob Labriola of Steelers.com, the veteran safety downed a punt inside the one-yard line at practice today, making a diving stop to prevent the ball from bouncing into the end zone.
“Riley also had perhaps the play of the day” at Friday’s practice said Labriola, “taking a pass from the arms of tight end Eric Ebron for an interception late in practice. The ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage and Ebron caught it, but Riley pulled it away and headed down the sideline with it.”
Mike Tomlin Talks Recent Roster Additions
“More than anything we were interested in increasing the level of competition in this environment, and the way you do that is you bring in as many capable men as you can,” said Tomlin. “Both Smallwood and Riley have credible NFL resumes, and they have proven that thus far. They have a veteran-like look to them, and both are being positive contributors to the days we’re having. We look forward to continuing to get to know them, and looking at ways they can maybe carve out a niche for themselves in what we’re doing here.”
Tomlin also noted the aforementioned Ray-Ray McCloud, saying, “Ray-Ray is a guy with credible NFL playing experience, and our desire is to have the most competitive environment that we can have here. Infusing a guy like him with a legitimate resume into the mix aids us in that. We’ll get to know him and see what he brings to the table in terms of his skills relative to his position.”
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