Steelers Make Final Call on TE Pat Freiermuth, Place Safety on IR Before Week 11

Pat Freiermuth

Getty The Pittsburgh Steelers activated Pat Freiermuth from injured reserve on November 18.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a slew of roster moves ahead of the Week 11 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Most notably, the Steelers activated tight end Pat Freiermuth from injured reserve.

“It felt amazing,” said Freiermuth, according to’s Teresa Varley. “Just being out there with the guys, especially the camaraderie we have on the team. It felt good.

“I feel really good. I just have to see how the week goes.”

Freiermuth will play in his first game on November 19 since Week 4. He missed five games because of a hamstring injury.

However, it wasn’t all good news for the Steelers. The team placed safety Keanu Neal on injured reserve on November 18. He suffered a rib injury after recording an interception against the Green Bay Packers during Week 10.

The Steelers already ruled out Neal for the Browns matchup, but placing him on injured reserve means he will miss the next four contests.

Pittsburgh will be without both of its starting safeties in Week 11. All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury and has been ruled out versus the Browns.

Replacing Neal on the active roster, the Steelers announced signing linebacker Mykal Walker from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Finally, the Steelers also elevated safety Trenton Thompson and linebacker Tariq Carpenter from the practice squad to the active/inactive roster for Week 11.

TE Pat Freiermuth to Return Against Browns

There are no good excuses in the NFL. But partially why the Steelers are ranked 28th in yards per game is because they haven’t played a full game with all of their offensive starters this season.

Assuming no other injuries occur, that will happen for the first time in Week 11.

Freiermuth’s return should provide the Steelers passing attack a big boost. Second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett has struggled to target the middle of the field without Freiermuth for much of this season.

Despite missing five games, Freiermuth is second on the team with 2 receiving touchdowns. He has 8 catches for 53 yards overall.

Last season, Freiermuth had 63 receptions and 732 receiving yards. Through Week 10, Connor Heyward leads Steelers tight ends with 17 catches and 137 receiving yards.

With Freiermuth returning, the Steelers will have all of their skilled positions players starting with Broderick Jones at right tackle for the first time.

Steelers Counting on Depth at Safety, Linebacker in Week 11

While the Steelers offense is getting healthy, the team’s defense keeps suffering injuries.

The middle of Pittsburgh’s defense will be filled with backups in Week 11. The team will be missing its top two inside linebackers in terms of snaps and both starting safeties.

Veteran linebacker Elandon Roberts figures to be key for the Steelers’ patchwork defense continuing to lead the NFL in takeaways.

“We’re going to lean on Elandon Roberts,” Tomlin told reporters on November 14. “That’s why we brought him here. He’s a defensive quarterback in mentality. He’s a really good communicator, a really good above-the-neck player. Does a really good job in those areas.”

Second-year linebacker Mark Robinson will start next to Roberts for the first time this season. Prior to Week 10, Robinson only had 4 defensive snaps in 2023.

Walker and Carpenter will also be available for the Steelers to play inside linebacker.

At safety, the Steelers will once again turn to Damontae Kazee, who has played 100% of the team’s defensive snaps the past two weeks without Fitzpatrick.

Thompson and fellow safety Miles Killebrew will likely help replace Neal. But a plethora of other defensive backs, including Chandon Sullivan, Elijah Riley, James Pierre and Darius Rush could play a lot more in Neal’s absence on November 19.

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments