Steelers Try Out Speedy Free Agent Wide Receiver


Scott Taetsch/Getty Images DeAndre Thompkins catches a touchdown pass for the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2018.

On Friday the Pittsburgh Steelers had former Penn State wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins in for a workout, this according to NFL reporter Albert Breer, who tweeted out the league’s official tryout/visit list.

Thompkins played for the DC Defenders of the XFL this spring, catching seven passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in four games before the league abruptly shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeAndre Thompkins’ NFL Experience

Thompkins was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as a rookie undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL draft, getting $85,000 guaranteed to sign according to But he played just 56 offensive snaps and 14 special teams snaps in four preseason games for the Eagles. During that time he caught a single pass for four yards, all while battling a shoulder injury that he suffered in the team’s preseason opener versus the Tennessee Titans.

During his four seasons at Penn State, Thompkins hauled in 83 passes for 1,245 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned 66 kicks and scored two touchdowns on kick returns and reportedly posted a 4.33 40-yard dash time during his Pro Day, which no doubt attracted the attention of the Eagles.

Following is one of those punt returns for touchdown, a 61-yarder vs. Akron:

DeAndre Thompkins Punt Return TD vs. AkronPenn State's DeAndre Thompkins hauls in a punt and returns it 61 yards for a first quarter touchdown against Akron.2017-09-02T19:34:45Z

The workout of Thompkins—not to mention Friday’s signing of former Penn State receiver Saeed Blacknall—is at least in part a response to the spate of injuries the Steelers have suffered at the wide receiver position. Wide receivers Ryan Switzer and Diontae Johnson both missed practice on Friday, the former with a foot injury that isn’t expected to be a long-term issue.

For his part, Switzer has been having an exceptionally strong camp to date, which helps explain why he believes he’s destined to become the next Julian Edelman, perhaps even the next Wes Welker, a pronouncement that made him the object of ridicule when he suggested the same this spring.

Donte Moncrief Re-Visited

Also notable about Friday’s transaction list is that the New York Jets had failed Steelers wide receiver Donte Moncrief in for a visit. (Moncrief’s brief tenure with the Steelers still sticks in the craw of many Steelers fans, especially since he counts for the second-most ‘dead money’ on the team’s salary cap in 2020. The San Francisco 49ers also had Moncrief in for a tryout recently.)

Meanwhile, wide receiver Anthony Johnson has reverted to the Steelers’ Reserve/Injured list after going unclaimed on waivers on Friday.

Johnson was waived injured on Thursday to help make room on the roster for 2 free agents, including long snapper Liam McCullough (Ohio State University), who could potentially replace Kameron Canaday if Canaday’s knee injury is a long-term problem.

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