The Pittsburgh Steelers remain in the market for additional depth behind reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt and fellow starting outside linebacker Alex Highsmith. So Jeremy Fowler’s report that the Steelers are working out a trio of pass rushers on Wednesday is hardly a surprise.
As noted by Fowler — senior NFL reporter for ESPN — the Steelers have a roster spot open in the wake of the recent release of rookie defensive lineman Trevon Mason, one of four tryout players signed on May 16, 2022, in the wake of the team’s rookie minicamp.
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All 3 Candidates Have Started Games in the League
As for the trio of players in question — Ifeadi Odenigbo, Wyatt Ray and Trent Harris — Odenigbo is the most accomplished of the three.
Odenigbo — 6-foot-3 and 258 pounds — is a former seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings (2017) who has appeared in 41 career games, including 31 games and 15 starts with the Vikings, as per Pro Football Reference (PFR). The rest of his experience has come with Arizona and Cleveland, including nine games with the Browns in 2021. His most impactful season came in 2019, when he recorded 23 tackles and seven sacks in a reserve role for Minnesota, a season in which he also produced 13 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He wasn’t any more impactful when he moved into a starting role the following year, recording 35 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hits.
Ray — 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds — is a former undrafted free agent out of Boston College who has 19 games of NFL experience under his belt, with two starts. That includes four games with the Tennessee Titans in 2020 and 15 more with Cincinnati last year, after the Bengals claimed him on waivers. During that time he has recorded 17 tackles (seven solo), with two sacks, three quarterback hits and one forced fumble.
Harris, 26, spent much of the last two seasons with the New York Giants, recording a total of 12 tackles and a half a sack during the eight games in which he appeared, according to PFR. Prior to that the 6-foot-2, 255-pounder played in 11 games (three starts) with the Miami Dolphins in 2019, where he was responsible for 22 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
Lack of Depth at Outside Linebacker Remains an Issue
The new addition will be competing for a job with former Browns and Eagles linebacker Genard Avery, who signed a one-year contract in late March. There’s also former Denver Broncos seventh-round pick Derrek Tuszka, who appeared in 15 games with Pittsburgh last season in a backup role. Then there’s Delontae Scott, he spent much of last season on the Steelers’ practice squad, but made his regular-season debut in November vs. the Los Angeles Chargers. And don’t forget about rookie edge rusher Tyree Johnson, an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M who is viewed as one of Pittsburgh’s most promising UDFAs, right along with former Duke running back Mataeo Durant.
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