Steelers Sign Safety, Add Curtis Riley to Practice Squad


Justin Berl/Getty Images D.K. Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks runs upfield after a catch as Sean Davis #21 of the Pittsburgh Steelers defends during a game in 2019.

On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers revealed the names of the 14 players added to the team’s 2020 practice squad.

One of those players is safety Curtis Riley, who had been released to make way for the return of safety Sean Davis, who left Pittsburgh via free agency earlier this year but was re-signed today.

Davis is fortunate to land on his feet with his old team, as is quarterback Josh Dobbs, who is back with the Steelers after getting released by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Other former Steelers haven’t been as lucky. Outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo was cut by the New Orleans Saints; wide receiver Donte Moncrief was cut by the New York Jets; fullback Roosevelt Nix was released by the Indianapolis Colts; cornerback Artie Burns tore the ACL in his left knee during training camp with the Chicago Bears and is out for the year. Finally, nose tackle Javon Hargrave remains out with an injury after signing a lucrative contract in free agency with the Philadelphia Eagles. I could go on, but you get the idea….

Sean Davis’ First Go-Round with the Steelers

Sean Davis was a second-round draft pick of the Steelers in the 2016 NFL Draft, a product of the University of Maryland, which has become a pipeline of talent for the Steelers in recent years, delivering running back Anthony McFarland Jr. and safety Antoine Brooks Jr. in the draft this year, plus offensive tackle Derwin Gray in the seventh-round last year. (Brooks and Gray are currently on the Steelers practice squad, as is another Maryland product, Trey Edmunds, brother of starting strong safety Terrell Edmunds.)

Davis’ career with the Steelers started strong. He started nine of 16 games during his rookie year and ranked fourth on the team with 69 tackles, good enough for him to win the Joe Greene Great Performance Award, which is given annually to the team’s top rookie.

In 48 games in Pittsburgh Davis contributed 247 total tackles, including 190 solo tackles and 11 tackles for loss, plus seven quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks. He also intercepted five passes and was responsible for 20 passes defensed, plus one forced fumble and one recovered fumble.

But he accounted for only five tackles last season before he injured his shoulder during the Seattle Seahawks game—the same game that QB Ben Roethlisberger suffered his season-ending elbow injury. Both were placed on injured reserve in the wake of that contest.

Davis is expected to serve as a reserve safety in his second go-round with the team, helping to provide better depth at the position than the team had last season.

Part of that depth includes Curtis Riley; the former Raiders and New York Giants safety initially came to the Steelers in late July, a free agent signing made with an eye toward keeping four vested veterans on the team’s salary cap, as is now allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement—a concession to the potential challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

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