Steelers Adding ‘Interesting Name’ to Defensive Line: Report

Renell Wren Bengals

(Dylan Buell/Getty Images Reid Sinnett of the Miami Dolphins throws a pass while being chased by Renell Wren of the Cincinnati Bengals during a preseason game on August 29, 2021.

According to ESPN senior NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler, the Pittsburgh Steelers will soon be adding defensive lineman Renell Wren (pronounced “reh-NELL” and “RENN”) to the practice squad.

Fowler calls Wren an “interesting name” to consider, as the “Steelers hope he’s a better fit in a 3-4 scheme” than he was in Cincinnati’s 4-3 defense.

To be sure, Wren didn’t live up to expectations in Cincinnati, which made him a fourth-round pick out of Arizona State (No. 125 overall) in 2019.

Wren — who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds — appeared in 11 games as a rookie (two starts) and recorded eight tackles before landing on injured reserve near the end of the season.

In August 2020 the Bengals placed him on the non-football injury list; then a quadriceps injury forced him to miss the entire season.

He returned in 2021 but played just 43 snaps in one regular-season game, getting called up from the practice squad to appear in Cincinnati’s preseason finale against the Browns.

Then in February of this year he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he remained until getting waived on August 29.

As for his college career at ASU, Wren played in 42 career games for the Sun Devils (mostly at nose tackle), recording 81 tackles (51 solo), including 14.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and one interception.

Barring injuries, it won’t be easy for Wren to earn playing time with the Steelers. The defensive line is Pittsburgh’s deepest position group, with seven defensive linemen on the 53-man roster and 2020 seventh-round pick Carlos Davis already on the practice squad.

All-Pro Cam Heyward, free agent acquisition Larry Ogunjobi and former Top 10 overall pick Tyson Alualu are the starters. Isaiahh Loudermilk backs up Heyward, Chris Wormley and rookie third-round pick DeMarvin Leal backstop Ogunjobi, and Montravius Adams survived the final round of roster cuts and will complement Alualu.


Ex-Bucs LB Chapelle Russell Has Signed to Pittsburgh’s Practice Squad

Meanwhile, on Thursday September 1 the Steelers announced that they signed linebacker Chapelle Russell to the team’s still-in-progress practice squad.

Russell, 25, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh-round of the 2020 NFL Draft (No. 241 overall). He appeared in 11 regular-season games as a rookie but only saw action on special teams, playing a total of 109 snaps.

After getting waived by the Buccaneers in January 2021 he signed on with Jacksonville. Last season he appeared in 16 games (with one start) and recorded 18 tackles (10 solo), having played 92 snaps on defense and 298 more on special teams, as per Pro Football Reference.

Over the course of his 45-game career at Temple (2016-19) he recorded 237 tackles (150 solo), including 19.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

For the moment, Russell will serve as practice squad depth behind Myles Jack, Devin Bush and Robert Spillane, as well as rookie seventh-round pick Mark Robinson and Marcus Allen, the latter of whom was signed to the team’s 53-man roster on September 1st.

Other announced practice squad additions include former Detroit cornerback Mark Gilbert and former Bengals tight end Justin Rigg. Gilbert spent time with the Steelers last season before the Lions poached him off Pittsburgh’s practice squad.

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