Steelers Add Edge Rusher After ‘Surprise’ Release by Falcons

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images Running back Devonta Freeman #24 and defensive tackle Jacob Tuioti-Mariner #91 celebrate a win over the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on December 15, 2019.

On Thursday the Pittsburgh Steelers signed fourth-year defender Jacob Tuioti-Mariner to the practice squad, a day after the former UCLA product was cut by the Atlanta Falcons.

Some NFL observers regarded Tuioti-Mariner’s release as “a surprise,” as he has certainly flashed ability over the course of the past few seasons. Yet he played a relatively limited role for the Falcons this year in Dean Pees’ new defense. Specifically, he appeared in six games—per Pro Football Reference—recording nine total tackles, with two sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and one pass breakup in 73 total snaps.

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It’s also worth noting that Tuioti-Mariner recently made the transition from defensive lineman to outside linebacker, the move roughly coinciding with Atlanta’s decision to re-sign him as an exclusive rights free agent in March 2021.

In 2020 he appeared in all 16 games for the Falcons, with his best performance coming in Week 12, when he earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording six tackles, a strip-sack, a forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries en route to Atlanta’s 43-6 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

All told, he has played in 30 games (one start) and has 54 career tackles, including four tackles for loss, three sacks, eight quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

How Tuioti-Mariner Fits in Pittsburgh

With No. 3 outside linebacker Melvin Ingram III having been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in a deadline-day deal, Tuioti-Mariner is now another depth option behind Taco Charton and Derrek Tuszka, both of whom came to the Steelers as practice squad additions and have since been promoted to the 53-man roster.

Tuioti-Mariner takes the practice squad spot that was occupied by veteran placekicker Josh Lambo, who was with the team for one week, serving as an insurance policy in case recently-concussed kicker Chris Boswell was unable to play against the Chicago Bears this past Monday night.

On Wednesday the Steelers also had a visit with ex-Titans and Jets outside linebacker Sharif Finch, but at the moment there doesn’t appear to be a place for him on the practice squad.

Updated Steelers Injury/Participation Report

On Thursday the Steelers released the second of three injury/participation reports for this week. Most notable is the fact that neither quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral/right shoulder) nor wide receiver Chase Claypool (toe) practiced on Thursday. Second-most notable is that rookie running back Najee Harris appeared on a Steelers injury report for the first time, limited in practice with a foot injury.

The other players who were limited participants were: defensive lineman Cameron Heyward (ankle), linebacker Robert Spillane (ankle) and rookie center Kendrick Green, who is bothered by a hamstring issue.

The good news is that both tight end Eric Ebron (hamstring) and defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs (hip) were full participants on Thursday, which bodes well for their chances of playing on Sunday against the visiting Detroit Lions, who have yet to win a game this season.

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