On Monday the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the three players who will serve as captains for the 2021 season, those being quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (offense), defensive end Cameron Heyward (defense) and fullback Derek Watt (special teams).
Per Steelers.com, Roethlisberger, 39, has been an offensive captain 13 times in his 18-year career, including the last 11 seasons. Heyward, who is 32, is entering his eleventh campaign and has been a defensive captain for the past seven years. Derek Watt, 28, is a first-time captain, having been acquired as an unrestricted free agent (Los Angeles Chargers) in the spring of 2020.
Last year both Roethlisberger and Heyward were co-captains, sharing the roles with Maurkice Pouncey and T.J. Watt, respectively.
Jersey Number Changes
Meanwhile, there have also been a handful of jersey number changes on defense. According to Steelers.com, inside linebacker Joe Schobert will wear No. 93 after donning No. 45 since being acquired in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
First-year outside linebacker Jamir Jones has also made a change, choosing to go with No. 40, which was worn by running back Tony Brooks-James during training camp and the preseason.
Rookie inside linebacker Buddy Johnson (fourth round, Texas A&M) is going forward with No. 45, which was owned by the aforementioned Schobert during the preseason.
Finally, recently-acquired cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon has elected to wear No. 25, having sported No. 23 during his four first seasons in the league with the San Francisco 49ers.
For most of the past two years, Pittsburgh’s No. 25 has been in the clutches of Antoine Brooks Jr., who was waived on Aug. 24 and has since signed on to the practice squad of the Los Angeles Rams. Prior to that it was worn by first-round cornerback Artie Burns, who was released by the Bears when Chicago made its final series of roster cuts in late August. But he has since been re-signed to Chicago’s active roster.
Jersey Numbers for Practice Squad Players
As for the new players who signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad last week, they will wear the following jersey numbers:
Safety Karl Joseph – No. 30
Outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka – No. 48
Defensive end Christian Miller – No. 55
Defensive tackle Daniel Archibong – No. 61
Wide receiver Steven Sims – No. 82
According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers plan to place Joseph on the active roster as soon as the six-day COVID-19 protocol for new players expires.
A New Depth Chart, Too
The Steelers also released an updated depth chart on Monday. It shows rookie fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. as the starter at left tackle, with rookie third-rounder Kendrick Green the starter at center. Rookie second-round pick Pat Freiermuth is listed as co-No. 1 tight end with veteran Eric Ebron, while 2021 first-rounder Najee Harris is listed as RB1.
Pittsburgh opens its 2021 schedule on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET against the Buffalo Bills.
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