Steelers Sign Ex-Falcons Running Back, Waive Linebacker

Tony Brooks-James

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Tony Brooks-James of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes against Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams on November 10, 2019.

On Tuesday the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the signing of running back Tony Brooks-James, who played three games for the team in 2019. Most recently he spent time with the Falcons, appearing in one contest for Atlanta towards the end of last season. He went on to ink a one-year Reserve/Futures deal with the Falcons in January, but was released by Atlanta on July 26th.

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RB2 (and RB3?) Hobbled by Injury

The addition of Brooks-James could mean that Benny Snell Jr.—listed as Najee Harris’ backup on the team’s training camp depth chart—is going to be unavailable for an extended period.

Snell missed practice on Monday, and when asked about that yesterday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said, “He’s being looked at. Maybe I’ll have an update when I determine the severity—or lack of severity—of it. Right now, we’re exploring his status.”

Noah Strackbein of Sports Illustrated notes that RB3 Anthony McFarland Jr. may also have an injury issue, though likely nothing significant.

Based on past NFL performance, one probably can’t expect much from Brooks-James. All in all, he has 11 career carries for 11 yards; he has also returned two kickoffs for a total of 32 yards, both of those returns coming with the Steelers.

Even in college at the University of Oregon he didn’t exactly produce awe-inspiring numbers. In four seasons with the Ducks, he totaled 1,863 rushing yards, 392 receiving yards, and 1,047 kick return yards. He did, however, score 21 total touchdowns, with 18 of those coming by rush, two via pass, and one on a kick return.

Brooks-James started his NFL career by signing with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent following the 2019 Draft. He went on to spend five weeks on Tampa Bay’s practice squad before the Steelers signed him midway through that season. Before re-joining the Falcons last year, Brooks-James also spent time with the Minnesota Vikings.

Steelers Waive Former Penn State, UMass Linebacker

To make room on the roster for Brooks-James, the Steelers waived inside linebacker Jarvis Miller, who was signed in March after he worked out at the University of Massachusetts’ Pro Day. Miller had a strong final college season playing as a graduate student at UMass, but wasn’t nearly as impactful while toiling at Penn State between 2016-18, finishing his Nittany Lions career with 23 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery.

Max Starks Joins the Steelers’ Radio Broadcast Team

On Tuesday the Steelers also announced several changes to the organization’s radio broadcast team.

For one, former Steelers offensive lineman Craig Wolfley is joining play-by-play announcer Bill Hillgrove in the broadcast booth as color analyst. Wolfley has served as a sideline analyst on Steelers radio broadcasts since 2002. Now he is charged with replacing Tunch Ilkin, who retired from broadcasting in June to focus on battling ALS.

In addition, former Steelers offensive tackle Max Starks–who won two Super Bowl championships with the team during his time as a player–slots in as the new sideline reporter, working alongside Missi Matthews during games.

“I am honored to be back on the Steelers sideline once again,” said Starks. “I’ve traded in my helmet for a headset, and I’m excited to join the Steelers Radio Network and keep the Lineman tradition alive on the broadcasts!”

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