On Oct. 4 the Pittsburgh Steelers inked a pair of players to their practice squad, including a rookie safety out of Wisconsin who has spent most of this year with the Seattle Seahawks.
Scott Nelson: A ‘Hearts and Smarts’ Safety
The safety in question is Scott Nelson, an undrafted free agent who signed with the Seahawks following the 2022 NFL Draft. He was released during the team’s final round of roster cuts, but subsequently spent time on Seattle’s practice squad.
He has been described as a “hearts and smarts player the Steelers usually have an eye on” — a player with good size (6-foot-2, 203 pounds), speed (4.38 40-yard dash at his Pro Day) and athleticism. Nelson was not invited to the NFL Combine, but the Steelers showed enough interest to hold a Zoom call with the Detroit native.
During his 29-game career at Wisconsin, Nelson recorded 127 tackles (81 solo), including 11 tackles for a loss, four interceptions, a forced fumble, a sack and 19 passes defensed. He missed all but one game of the 2019 season, having suffered a torn ACL in the season-opener at South Florida.
It’s not hard to see why the Steelers added a versatile safety to the practice squad, in light of the fact that starting free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has a knee injury that “needs to be managed,” and starting strong safety Terrell Edmunds is in the concussion protocol. Never mind the fact that cornerback Cam Sutton has a groin injury and fellow cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is expected to miss the Bills game with his hamstring injury.
That said, Pittsburgh’s secondary depth could very much be tested by Josh Allen and the Bills offense. If Fitzpatrick and Edmunds can’t play, Tre Norwood and Miles Killebrew would be next in line on the depth chart, respectively. Meanwhile, former undrafted free agent James Pierre figures to step in for Witherspoon at left cornerback, while Levi Wallace would start in place of Sutton against his old team.
Center Ryan McCollum Re-Signed to Practice Squad
Meanwhile, on Oct. 4 the Steelers brought back center Ryan McCollum, who originally joined the Steelers during training camp, after he was claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions.
McCollum, 24, played on the same offensive line as Steelers left tackle Dan Moore Jr. at Texas A&M. He was part of the final round of roster cuts in late August but was signed to the team’s practice squad just days later. Most recently, he was waived from the practice squad on Sept. 30 to make room for cornerback Mark Gilbert.
On Tuesday the Steelers created space for Nelson and McCollum by terminating the practice squad contract of veteran punter Jordan Berry and rookie wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson. The Steelers signed Berry to the practice squad on Sept. 27, as insurance in case Pressley Harvin III (hip) could not play against the Jets. As it turns out, Berry wasn’t needed. Harvin played in the game and punted four times for 158 yards, an average of 39.5 yards per kick.
As for Roberson, he has been on and off Pittsburgh’s practice squad this season.