Steelers Add Ex-Patriots, Titans Edge Rusher

John Simon chasing Lamar Jackson

Billie Weiss/Getty Images Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens runs against John Simon of the New England Patriots on November 15, 2020.

On Monday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers made a series of roster moves, headlined by the addition of veteran edge rusher John Simon, 31, who takes the place of kicker Sam Sloman on the team’s practice squad.

Simon is a Former Fourth-Round Pick of the Ravens

John Simon entered the NFL in 2013, when the Baltimore Ravens drafted him in the fourth round (No. 129 overall) out of Ohio State. He lasted just one season in Baltimore before establishing himself with the Houston Texans (2014-16), then moved on to play for the Indianapolis Colts (2017) and New England Patriots (2018-20).

Simon signed with Tennessee in July 2021 and went through training camp with the Titans, only to be released when the team reduced its roster to 53 players. He has been on and off Tennessee’s practice squad for much of this season, with his most recent release coming on December 6. But he did play in two games for the Titans, recording six total tackles and one quarterback hit while playing a total of 38 defensive snaps and six special teams snaps.

The addition of Simon likely means the Steelers are concerned about the near-term availability of outside linebackers T.J. Watt (groin) and/or Alex Highsmith (contusion), both of whom were forced out of Thursday night’s game against the Vikings due to injury. In their place the Steelers turned to backups Derrek Tuszka and Taco Charlton, the latter a former first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys who was selected two spots ahead of T.J. Watt in 2017.

Of course, Simon has considerable NFL experience. Per Pro Football Reference, he has played in 99 games with 52 starts, the vast majority of which came with the Patriots. Thus far in his career he has 283 total tackles (184 solo), with 21 sacks, 54 quarterback hits, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 25 tackles for loss.

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Steelers Place Practice Squad DB on Reserve/COVID-19 List

On Monday, the Steelers placed practice squad cornerback Linden Stephens on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list. Stephens was re-signed to the practice squad on December 10, just 48 hours after getting released from same.

On the plus side, the Steelers activated offensive lineman Joe Haeg off the Reserve/COVID-19 list, where he spent the past 13 days. Haeg—a former fifth-round pick of the Colts—has appeared in eight games this season, with one start.

It would not be a surprise if COVID-19 has a greater and greater impact on the competitive balance of games during the final month of the season. As noted by ESPN senior NFL insider Adam Schefter, the league had 37 positive COVID-19 tests on Monday, five of whom play for the Los Angeles Rams, who will be going against James Conner and the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football.

With the release of Sloman, the Steelers no longer have any specialists on the practice squad. Sloman was signed on November 27, 2021; more recently, the Steelers had a punter and long snapper on the practice squad as well.

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