Steelers Sign CB With Pro Bowl Bloodlines; Starting DB Ruled out vs Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers helmet

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers helmet

On Friday the Pittsburgh Steelers made a change to their practice squad, bringing back former undrafted free agent cornerback Mark Gilbert. The move can be seen as a response to the hamstring injury suffered by starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who was hurt in the team’s most recent game. On Friday Sept. 30, Witherspoon did not practice for the third consecutive day, and was subsequently ruled out for Sunday’s home game against the New York Jets.

The Steelers already have a certain amount of familiarity with Gilbert. Recall that the team originally signed him as a rookie undrafted free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft. After he failed to make the 53-man roster out of training camp, he was signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad, only to be poached by the Detroit Lions in mid-October 2021.

That eventuality came back to haunt the Steelers, because a month later he forced a Diontae Johnson fumble during the overtime period of a game between the two teams, helping the then-winless Lions preserve a 16-16 tie. All told, Gilbert played in eight games for the Lions in 2021, credited with three tackles, one pass defensed and the aforementioned forced fumble, as per Pro Football Reference.

Gilbert was signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad on Sept. 1, 2022, but was waived on Sept. 20 to make room for wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson.

Mark Gilbert is Related to Jets Safety Jordan Whitehead

That said, Gilbert is looking forward to being at Acrisure Stadium when the Steelers host the Jets. Even if he doesn’t get a helmet for the game, he’ll have the opportunity to watch one of his cousins on his father’s side, namely fifth-year Jets safety Jordan Whitehead, who starred at Pitt before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Whitehead is in his first season with the Jets, but already has 62 games of NFL experience.

“Every time he plays, I’m watching,” Gilbert told Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

But Mark Gilbert’s NFL bloodlines don’t end there. He’s also the nephew of former Pro Bowl defensive lineman Sean Gilbert, who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft. More notably, he’s the cousin of former four-time first-team All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, who finished second to Charles Woodson in AP Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2009.

Center Ryan McCollum Waived by Steelers

To make room for Mark Gilbert on the practice squad, the team waived center Ryan McCollum, who had been claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions in mid-August. McCollum was waived during Pittsburgh’s final round of roster cuts but was quickly added back to the practice squad.

The addition of Gilbert is the second practice squad change that the Steelers made this week. Punter Jordan Berry was inked on Sept. 27 as an insurance policy of sorts, in case Pressley Harvin III can’t go against the New York Jets. But all indications are that Harvin will be in the lineup. On Friday he was a full participant in practice for a third day in a row.

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