Steelers Poach Veteran Defensive End from Colts

Cassius Marsh

David Eulitt/Getty Images Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs is hit by Cassius Marsh of the San Francisco 49ers on September 23, 2018.

On Wednesday the Pittsburgh Steelers added to the team’s depth on defense by signing seventh-year defensive end Cassius Marsh (6-foot-4, 254 pounds) off the practice squad of the Indianapolis Colts.

Marsh, 28, has bounced around the NFL since being a fourth-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 (No. 108 overall). He played three seasons in Seattle, appearing in 37 games, recording 55 tackles (36 solo), along with 10 tackles for loss, five quarterback hits and three sacks.

Since then he has played for five other teams, including the New England Patriots, who acquired him from the Seahawks in September 2017 for a 2018 fifth-round draft choice.

Marsh’s other NFL stops include the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars, with his best season coming in 2018 as a member of the 49ers. That year he started three of the 16 games in which he appeared, recording 38 tackles, with seven tackles for loss, 14 quarterback hits and five-and-a-half sacks.

Cassius Marsh in 2020

This year Marsh started the season in Jacksonville, appearing in four games with one start before getting cut in mid-October. He subsequently signed to the Colts’ practice squad, playing in three games as a COVID-19 replacement, responsible for 14 tackles, one quarterback hit and one forced fumble in seven total games.

Over the course of the 91 games he has played in the NFL (nine starts), he has been credited with 173 total tackles (126 solo), with 14 sacks, 25 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries.

Marsh projects as an outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme, where the Steelers need depth behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, not to mention backups Ola Adeniyi, Jayrone Elliott and Ulysees Gilbert III, the latter of whom is on the team’s injured reserve list. He will wear #49.

James Conner Activated

On Wednesday, the Steelers also activated No. 1 running back James Conner off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Conner missed two games—versus Baltimore and Washington—in the wake of getting placed on the list on November 28th. This season he has had 145 carries for 645 yards (4.4 yards per carry), along with five touchdowns. He also has 25 receptions for 145 yards.

Pittsburgh’s running game has struggled badly in Conner’s absence, especially against Washington, when the team’s offense produced just 21 yards on the ground. The results against the Ravens weren’t much better, with Benny Snell Jr. the team’s leading rusher with 16 carries for just 60 yards and rookie Anthony McFarland adding just nine yards on three carries.

No doubt the Steelers would benefit from the return of center Maurkice Pouncey, who remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, where he has been since December 2nd.

Ulysees Gilbert Returns to Practice

Aforementioned linebacker Ulysees Gilbert returned to practice on Wednesday, though he remains on injured reserve. Gilbert was placed on IR with a back injury on November 4th; Mike Tomlin & Co. now have 21 days to activate him or he must remain on IR for the remainder of the season.

Gilbert missed half of the 2019 season with a fractured vertebra.

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