On Tuesday November 23 the Pittsburgh Steelers made a handful of changes to their roster, with most of the moves necessitated by injuries or COVID-19. That includes bringing back former Chicago Bears offensive guard Rashaad Coward, who was signed to the practice squad in the wake of backup guard/center J.C. Hassenauer getting injured against the Los Angeles Chargers this past Sunday night.
Coward’s 2021 Season: From Pittsburgh to Jacksonville & Back Again
The Steelers originally signed Coward to one-year contract in March 2021, a memorable free agent signing insofar as an online gamer/Green Bay Packers fan broke the news of the deal. Coward worked with the first-team offensive line throughout the offseason program and into training camp. Nevertheless, he was part of the final round of roster cuts, then signed to the practice squad on September 1, only to get released again on October 9.
Coward wasn’t unemployed for long, however, as he was almost immediately snapped up by the Jaguars. His time with Jacksonville was short-lived, though, as he was released just a week later, hence his availability as a free agent.
As noted by Pro Football Reference, Coward has 30 games of NFL experience with the Bears. That includes 15 starts, all of which came in 2019-20.
The Steelers Released Practice Squad QB James Morgan
To make room on the practice squad for Coward, the Steelers released quarterback James Morgan, who was signed on November 15 after starting QB Ben Roethlisberger was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Morgan is a former fourth-round pick of the New York Jets but has yet to appear in a regular-season game.
Kick Returner Ray-Ray McCloud to the COVID-19 List
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh placed wide receiver/kick returner Ray-Ray McCloud on its Reserve/COVID-19 list, where he joins free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. McCloud has 19 receptions for 141 yards this year. More notably, he has been Pittsburgh’s primary kick returner this season, with 21 kickoff returns for 503 yards and 22 punts returned for 194 yards.
His absence adds a certain amount of intrigue in terms of who the Steelers might choose to use as a kick returner on Sunday in Cincinnati, assuming McCloud remains unavailable.
Steelers Add Ex-Packers Tight End
Finally, Pittsburgh signed former Green Bay Packers third-round pick Jace Sternberger to the team’s practice squad. The move came in response to news that Eric Ebron’s knee injury is likely to require surgery, which also prompted the Steelers to promote practice squad tight end Kevin Rader to the 53-man roster.
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Pittsburgh’s Week 12 Practice Squad Protections
Also on Tuesday the Steelers named the four practice squad players they are protecting this week.
None of the four can be signed by another team until after this weekend’s game at Cincinnati, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on November 28 at Paul Brown Stadium.
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