Steelers Elevate Former MVFC Defensive Player of the Year

Derrek Tuszka

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images Linebacker Derrek Tuszka of the Denver Broncos on August 20, 2020.

On Saturday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers made a pair of roster moves designed to address roster holes created by recent injuries. First and foremost, the team elevated linebacker Derrek Tuszka from the practice squad, doing so just hours after All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt was ruled out of Sunday’s AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The team also promoted wide receiver Cody White from the practice squad, as the team would otherwise be short a wide receiver now that Diontae Johnson has been ruled out with a knee injury.

As noted by, after Sunday’s game both Tuszka and White will automatically revert to the practice squad without having to pass through waivers.

Derrek Tuszka is a Former Denver Broncos Draft Pick

Tuszka, 25, entered the NFL last year as a seventh-round pick of the Denver Broncos, having been drafted No. 254 overall out of North Dakota State. In his last year with the Bison, he was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, with quarterback Trey Lance—the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft (San Francisco 49ers)—being his offensive counterpart.

Tuszka appeared in nine games for the Broncos last season, and per Pro Football Reference, he was credited with six total tackles and one tackle for loss.

Tuszka could see significant snaps against the Bengals, because in addition to Watt, fellow outside linebacker Alex Highsmith has also been ruled out of Sunday’s game. That moves backups Melvin Ingram III and Jamir Jones into starting roles, with Tuszka acting in a reserve capacity.

Tuszka has been with the Steelers’ organization for the past three-and-a-half weeks. He was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1, but this is the first time he will be active for a game.

Prior to being drafted by the Broncos he played four seasons for the NDSU Bison, during which time he appeared in 53 games and recorded 133 tackles, 29.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes defensed.

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WR Cody White Has NFL Bloodlines

As for Cody White, he hasn’t yet appeared in a regular-season game with the Steelers but he has spent considerable time with the team over the past two seasons. He was originally signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad in Sept. 2020 and went on to ink a one-year Reserve/Future contract this past January. He was included in Pittsburgh’s final round of roster cuts on Aug. 31, 2021, then signed to the team’s practice squad a day later after he cleared waivers.

The former undrafted free agent played his college ball at Michigan State, finishing his Spartans career with more receptions than ex-first-round wide receivers Charles Rodgers and Plaxico Burress, the latter of whom played for the Steelers for four years after the team drafted him No. 8 overall in 2000.

White’s father, Sheldon, was selected by the New York Giants in the third round of the 1988 NFL Draft out of Miami of Ohio. He went on to play defensive back in the league for six years, appearing in a total of 72 games with the Giants, Detroit Lions and Bengals.

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