Steelers Sign Former Giants Draft Pick, Cut Veteran Running Back

Jaylen Samuels

Justin Berl/Getty Images Jaylen Samuels #38 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stiff arms Sheldrick Redwine of the Cleveland Browns on December 1, 2019.

On Wednesday the Pittsburgh Steelers signed defensive tackle Chris Slayton to the practice squad, a move made in response to second-year defensive tackle Carlos Davis being placed on injured reserve. Slayton, 25, is a former seventh-round draft pick of the New York Giants, selected No. 245 overall in 2019 out of Syracuse University.

The 6-foot-4, 307 pounder had a standout four-year career for the Orange, during which time he was a three-year starter and also served as a defensive captain. In 49 career games (42 starts), he recorded 107 tackles (66 solo) with 32.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, three pass breakups, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick.

“If he was more consistent, he would be a higher pick,” said draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. during ESPN’s broadcast of the 2019 NFL Draft. “He’s got the upper-body strength. He can stack. He can shed against the run, generate some pressure, but you don’t see either on a consistent basis.”

That may help explain why Slayton has spent most of his NFL career on various practice squads, and has yet to appear in a regular-season game. In addition to the season he spent with the Giants, the Illinois native has also logged time with the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills.

Steelers Release Running Back Jaylen Samuels

Meanwhile, on Wednesday the Steelers also activated second-year running back Anthony McFarland Jr. off of injured reserve. In turn, the team released fourth-year back Jaylen Samuels from the practice squad.

Samuels appeared in 14 games in each of his first three seasons since the Steelers made him a fifth-round pick out of North Carolina State. This season he failed to make the 53-man roster, though the team immediately signed him back to the practice squad on September 1, 2021.

During his time with the Steelers, Samuels played in a total of 42 games, with eight starts. All told, he carried the ball 131 times for 459 yards and one touchdown, producing an average of 3.5 yards per carry. He also had 82 receptions for 550 yards and four touchdown catches, as per Pro Football Reference.

Pittsburgh moves forward with rookie first-round pick Najee Harris as its starter, with McFarland, Benny Snell Jr. and Kalen Ballage as the backups.

At the moment, the only running back on Pittsburgh’s practice squad is fullback Trey Edmunds.

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Ben Roethlisberger No Longer the Winningest QB at First Energy Stadium

On Sunday October 31 Pittsburgh returns to action with an AFC North showdown against the Cleveland Browns at First Energy Stadium. For many years, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was the winningest QB in the stadium’s history, which he jokingly made reference to during his media scrum on Wednesday.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield eclipsed Roethlisberger’s record in November 2020 with a win over the Houston Texans, one that raised his record at First Energy Stadium to 12-7-1. Roethlisberger has an 11-2-1 record at the venue, though he hasn’t won there since 2017. (The 2018 meeting ended in a tie, he missed the 2019 contest because of his season-ending elbow injury, and he sat out the 2020 season-finale, with that start going to backup Mason Rudolph.)

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