In the wake of the pectoral injury suffered by T.J. Watt this past Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed outside linebacker Ryan Anderson to the team’s practice squad. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network was first to report the news, which was subsequently confirmed by the team.
Ryan Anderson Was a 2nd-Round Pick in 2017
Anderson, 28, entered the NFL in 2017, when the Washington Football Team made him its second-round pick.
He played for four seasons in Washington, appearing in 52 games and making four starts, as per Pro Football Reference. All together, he recorded 86 tackles, including seven tackles for loss, six sacks and 15 quarterback hits, plus five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He finished his last season with the Commanders on injured reserve, hampered by a knee issue.
He went on to sign with the New York Giants in March 2021 but opened training camp on the non-football injury list with a back injury. Then, in late August he was suspended for the first six games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. In between, he was released and re-signed “as a procedural move with his contract adjusted,” as per ESPN.
Anderson — who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 253 pounds — played his college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide, where as a senior he was first-team All-SEC and a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation’s top linebacker.
According to Pittsburgh’s official website, Anderson will wear jersey No. 52.
The Steelers Currently Have 3 Healthy OLBs on the Active Roster
T.J. Watt aside, the Steelers have only three other outside linebackers on the 53-man roster, namely Alex Highsmith, Malik Reed and Jamir Jones. That means they are likely to activate an OLB from the practice squad for this Sunday’s home opener against the New England Patriots.
Most likely it will be Delontae Scott, who was the last player added to the initial incarnation of the team’s 2022 practice squad. Scott entered the NFL in 2020, signing with the Packers as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Methodist. He first joined Pittsburgh’s practice squad on September 7, 2021, but didn’t make his regular-season debut until November (against the Los Angeles Chargers). He was cut by the Steelers on August 30, part of this summer’s second-to-last round of roster cuts.
To make room for Anderson on the practice squad, the Steelers released wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Wake Forest who joined the team a week ago.
But the task of replacing Watt will mostly be handled by Malik Reed, who was acquired in a trade with the Denver Broncos late last month. Reed has experience filling-in for the likes of Bradley Chubb and Von Miller and started a total of 34 games for the Broncos between 2019-21.
“I definitely have experience, a lot of experience, and I can play this game at a high level, so I’m excited,” said Reed, in an interview with Mike Prisuta for Steelers.com. “I’m sending prayers up for (Watt), tell him I’m gonna pray for him, but we know that we have to step up to the plate,” said Reed.