On Wednesday the Pittsburgh Steelers activated veteran defensive back Damontae Kazee, moving him from the reserve/injured list to the 53-man roster. Kazee suffered a broken forearm and dislocated wrist during the Aug. 28 preseason game against the Detroit Lions and had been on injured reserve since the beginning of the season. He returned to practice on Oct. 20, opening a 21-day window to activate him.
Kazee hopes he can provide a boost to what is currently the fourth-worst pass defense in the NFL, having allowed 2,218 passing yards through eight games.
“At the end of the day we have to make plays, get turnovers, give our offense another opportunity to go score some points,” Kazee recently told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “We just have to trust our keys. Trust everything the coaches are giving us. Execute the plays. At the end of the day, they can call out any play. We just have to execute it. That’s what we need to do more.”
Kazee — a former 5th-round pick out of San Diego State (2017) — signed with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in May 2022. He’s a sixth-year veteran, having spent his first four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and last season with the Dallas Cowboys.
During his first five years in the league Kazee was credited with 251 tackles (172 solo), including three tackles for loss, 12 interceptions, 17 passes defensed and seven forced fumbles, as per Pro Football Reference.
Kicker Chris Boswell Placed on Injured Reserve
To make room for Kazee on the 53-man roster the Steelers placed kicker Chris Boswell on injured reserve. Boswell has a right groin injury that forced him to miss the Oct. 30 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Boswell will be replaced in the lineup by Matthew Wright, who was plucked off the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad on Nov. 9. As a result, Wright must remain on the team’s 53-man roster for at least three weeks.
Wright filled in for Boswell for three games in 2020, connecting on 4-of-4 field goal attempts while going 7-of-7 on extra points.
Accuracy has never been a problem for Wright. In 19 career games he has converted 28 of 32 field goal attempts (87.5%) and 28 of 30 extra point attempts (93.3%), according to Pro Football Reference. It’s questions about his leg strength that may be keeping him from winning a regular kicking job, though it may be less of an issue today than it was the last time he played for the Steelers, when just 6.7% of his kickoffs went for touchdowns and his longest field goal was 46 yards.
Last year he converted multiple field goals of 50+ yards (including a walk-off 53-yarder that allowed the Jaguars to snap a 20-game losing streak), even as he improved his touchback rate to 19.4%.
In two games with the Chiefs this season he had a touchback percentage of 76.9%. He also converted a 59-year field goal, his career long.
Steelers Injury Update
Meanwhile, the Steelers issued their second injury report of Saints week and there was one bit of good news. Namely, defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi (knee) was a limited participant on Thursday after being unable to practice a day earlier.
Of more concern is that recent trade acquisition William Jackson III was unable to practice for the second day in a row. He had a pre-existing back injury when the Steelers acquired him on Nov. 1.