On Tuesday Sept. 28 the Pittsburgh Steelers swapped one outside linebacker for another when they promoted Derrek Tuszka from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. In effect, he takes the place of fellow outside linebacker Jamir Jones, who was waived to make room on the roster for Tuszka, a 2020 seventh-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos and former MVFC Defensive Player of the Year.
Tuszka Made His Steelers Debut vs. the Bengals
Tuszka, 25, got his first opportunity to suit up for the Steelers this past Sunday, thanks to groin injuries to starting outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. He played 27 snaps on defense and was a part of six tackles, according to Steelers.com.
“I was to going be prepared to play, no matter what week it is,” he told Steelers.com on Monday, having automatically reverted to the practice squad before being added to the active roster.
The North Dakota State product was signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad on Sept. 1, and has been getting ready to serve in a reserve capacity ever since.
“The first two weeks I was ready to play as well, so getting the opportunity was great. I feel like I had a decent game. Always room for improvement, but a good game to build off and keep going forward,” he said.
The Steelers Plan to Re-Sign Jamir Jones?
As for Jamir Jones, he played in all three Steelers games this season, with the first start of his NFL career coming against the Bengals.
Per NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala, Pittsburgh’s tentative plan is to re-sign Jones to the practice squad, assuming he clears waivers.
According to Pro Football Reference, he played 36 defensive snaps (18%) and 29 defensive snaps (36%) in the first three weeks of season, recording three solo tackles and one quarterback hit in the process. He was originally signed by the Steelers in April when he was (re)discovered by general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin at Notre Dame’s 2021 Pro Day.
That said, for a period of two months he was on the Steelers’ roster at the same time as his brother Jarron, an offensive tackle who spent the 2020 season on Pittsburgh’s practice squad. But Jones was released in July when the Steelers onboarded former Dallas Cowboys tackle Chaz Green.
It’s likely that Jarron Jones’ legal troubles figured into the equation somehow, as he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, strangulation and simple assault in the wake of “an ongoing domestic violence altercation” between Jones and his girlfriend, one that occurred on Oct. 3, 2020.
The aggravated assault and strangulation charges were subsequently dismissed, but then he was re-arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment stemming from a separate incident that occurred on Sept. 19, 2020.
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