Steelers Bringing Back Former ‘Camp Phenom’: Report

Tuzar Skipper

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images Tuzar Skipper celebrates after tackling Ryan Hewitt of the Tennessee Titans on August 25, 2019.

On June 1, 2022, reports emerged that the Pittsburgh Steelers were hosting three veteran edge rushers for workouts. Perhaps they found none of the three to their liking, because Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network has since reported that the Steelers have agreed to terms with former Toledo outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper.

Skipper went on to confirm the news by replying to a tweet from his agents:

He slots in to the final spot on the 90-man roster, which was vacated on May 31, when the Steelers released rookie UDFA Trevon Mason, who was signed after impressing at rookie minicamp — one of four rookies to earn such a distinction.

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Tunch Ilkin Dubbed Tuzar Skipper 2019’s ‘Camp Phenom’

Skipper — who turns 27 on June 5 — is a name that ought to be familiar to Steelers fans, despite the fact that he hasn’t spent time with the team since the summer of 2020. He first made a name for himself the previous summer, when his pass rush skills led late Steelers radio broadcaster Tunch Ilkin to refer to him as that season’s “camp phenom.”

All he did that preseason was record 16 tackles and five sacks, which was enough to make the 53-man roster as the team’s fifth outside linebacker. Yet he was waived prior to the start of the regular season to make room for a fringe wide receiver, and was claimed on waivers by the New York Giants.

The Steelers thought enough of Skipper to sign him off New York’s practice squad later that season, and took the opportunity to sign him to a two-year contract extension. Yet he was released during the last round of cuts in the summer of 2020, at which point he joined Tennessee’s practice squad.

He went on to appear in four games and make two starts for the Titans, contributing five tackles and earning a one-year Reserve/Futures contract with Tennessee for 2021. After he was waived by the Titans in July 2021 he signed with the Falcons, only to return to the Titans in January 2022. He became available again in May 2022 after the Titans released him once more.

Steelers Still Searching for Better Depth at OLB

Skipper returns to Pittsburgh with a decent chance of earning a backup job with the Steelers, who have more questions than answers at the position after you get beyond 2021 Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt and fellow starter Alex Highsmith, the latter of whom is entering his third year in the league, having authored a total of eight sacks during his first two seasons.

At the moment, the top backup is probably former Browns and Eagles linebacker Genard Avery, who inked a one-year contract in late March. There’s also former Broncos seventh-round pick Derrek Tuszka, who appeared in 15 games with Pittsburgh last season in a backup role.

The Steelers also have Delontae Scott, who spent most of last season on Pittsburgh’s practice squad, but did get a chance to make his regular-season debut in November against the Los Angeles Chargers. A dark horse candidate to make the team out of camp is rookie UDFA Tyree Johnson (Texas A&M), who is viewed as having the skills to develop into an effective situational pass rusher.

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