Steelers Sign Former Patriots 2nd-Round Pick

Broncos CB Duke Dawson

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images Cornerback Duke Dawson of the Denver Broncos participates in a drill during a training session at UCHealth Training Center on August 20, 2020.

On Oct. 11 the Pittsburgh Steelers worked out a pair of cornerbacks, namely Duke Dawson and Lavert Hill. On Wednesday the Steelers signed the former to the practice squad, adding to a position group that has been dealing with a series of injuries, with Ahkello Witherspoon and Cameron Sutton attempting to work their way back from hamstring injuries and Levi Wallace currently in the concussion protocol.

Dawson — who turns 27 on Oct. 13 — has been in the league since the New England Patriots made him a 2nd-round pick in 2018, having played his college football at Florida. He started his rookie season on injured reserve (hamstring) and didn’t appear in a regular-season game until after he was traded to the Denver Broncos on Aug. 30, 2019, who sent the Patriots a 6th-round pick in exchange for Dawson and a 7th-round pick.

Duke Dawson Has 26 Games of NFL Experience

That year Dawson played in 14 games and made three starts for the Denver Broncos. In 2020 he appeared in 12 games before suffering a torn ACL, necessitating another stint on injured reserve. He started the 2021 season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list; after he returned in November, he spent the remainder of the 2020 campaign on the practice squad.

Finally, this year he signed with the Carolina Panthers, appearing in one preseason game (recording four tackles and an interception) before being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury and released with an injury settlement on Aug. 25, 2022. All told, he has been credited with 27 career tackles (17 solo), with two passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

At Florida, Dawson recorded a total of 81 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions, 17 passes defensed and two forced fumbles. He returned three of his interceptions for touchdowns and was named first-team All-SEC after his senior year.

To make room for Dawson on the practice squad, the Steelers released running back Jason Huntley, a former 5th-round pick of the Detroit Lions who signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad on Sept. 2, 2022. Huntley appeared in six games for the Philadelphia Eagles between 2021-21.

Pittsburgh Has 4 CBs on Its Practice Squad

With the addition of Dawson, Pittsburgh now has a total of four cornerbacks on its practice squad, with the others being Mark Gilbert, Josh Jackson and Quincy Wilson.

Gilbert originally signed with the Steelers as a rookie undrafted free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft. He spent part of last season on Pittsburgh’s practice squad, but was poached by the Detroit Lions in mid-October and went on to force a critical Diontae Johnson fumble in a game against the Steelers. Gilbert has been on and off Pittsburgh’s practice squad this season, and has yet to appear in a regular-season game for the Steelers.

Meanwhile, Josh Jackson signed with the Steelers in early September and has been elevated from the practice squad to play against the Jets and Bills. As for Quincy Wilson, he joined Pittsburgh’s practice squad on Sept. 21 but has yet to appear in a game for the Steelers. Like Duke Dawson, both Jackson and Wilson are former 2nd-round picks.

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