Steelers Elevate WR from Practice Squad


Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Deon Cain of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts to make a catch against Denzel Ward of the Cleveland Browns on December 1, 2019.

On Saturday the Pittsburgh Steelers elevated wide receiver Deon Cain from the team’s practice squad for Sunday’s matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Procedurally it’s similar to what the team did last Sunday when it elevated running back Trey Edumunds to take the place of fullback Derek Watt, who was dealing with a hamstring injury. As was the case with Edmunds, Cain will automatically revert back to the practice squad after the game without having to pass through waivers.

In effect, Cain takes Diontae Johnson’s spot on the roster, though rookie phenom Chase Claypool will likely get most of the snaps that would otherwise go to Johnson, especially in light of the fact that he was AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his effort against he Eagles.

Deon Cain: A Colts Draft Pick

Cain entered the NFL in 2018 as a sixth-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts but spent his rookie year on injured reserve. He started three games and appeared in seven games for the Colts in 2019, generating four receptions for 52 yards before he was moved down to Indy’s practice squad. Days later he was signed to Pittsburgh’s active roster; he played in six games for the Steelers (3 starts) contributing five catches for 72 yards.

This year Cain failed to make Pittsburgh’s opening-day roster but was signed to the team’s practice squad after clearing waivers, where he has remained ever since. In recent weeks he has been one of the four “protected” players on the team’s practice squad, a response to the fact that both Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster have been hampered by injuries all season.

Cleveland Browns Elevate S Elijah Benton

Meanwhile, on Saturday the Browns elevated a practice squad player of their own, placing safety Elijah Benton on the team’s active roster. Benton was signed by Browns as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Liberty University and spent the first five weeks of the year on Cleveland’s practice squad.

The Browns have significant injury concerns at the safety position as Ronnie Harrison (concussion) and Karl Joseph (hamstring) have already been ruled out for Sunday. More notable, still, it’s possible that the Browns will have only one QB for the Steelers game, as the NFL ruled that the Browns could not activate QB Kyle Lauletta, who signed with the team on Monday after the Dallas Cowboys signed QB Garrett Gilbert off Cleveland’s practice squad.

In another injury-related adjustment, former Steelers right tackle Chris Hubbard is expected to start for the Browns at right guard on Sunday, the replacement for injured starter Wyatt Teller. It will be Hubbard’s first-ever start at the guard position in the NFL.

Two weeks ago Cleveland added former Steelers wide receiver Ryan Switzer to the team’s practice squad, but Switzer was not activated for Sunday’s game, perhaps an indication that Odell Beckham Jr. (illness) and Jarvis Landry (hip/ribs) will be available to play. Both Beckham and Landry were listed as “questionable” on Cleveland’s most recent injury/participation report.

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