On Thursday the Pittsburgh Steelers announced tryouts for a pair of free-agent offensive linemen and a former Philadelphia Eagles defensive end, the initiatives prompted by Bud Dupree’s season-ending knee injury and recent additions to the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Offensive Tackle Cody Conway
The first name to know is Cody Conway, 24, a hulking, uber-athletic offensive tackle with a name befitting a country music star. Conway is 6-foot-6, 308 pounds and played almost 3,000 snaps over the course of 40 games for the Syracuse Orange between 2015 and 2018.
Conway signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft, but was released prior to the start of last season. He has since spent time on the practice squads of both the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.
Though he was credited with 81.5 knockdown blocks during his college career, talent evaluators have generally regarded Conway as a better pass blocker than run blocker, which would help him fit right in on Pittsburgh’s offensive line.
It’s hardly a surprise that the Steelers are looking to add depth at offensive tackle, as Jerald Hawkins was added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list last Friday. Meanwhile, starting right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor got rolled up on versus the Ravens on Wednesday, though he returned to the game shortly thereafter and appears to be no worse for wear, at least if Pittsburgh’s most recent injury report is any indication.
Center Zach Shackelford
The other offensive line prospect the Steelers called in for a tryout is Zach Shackelford, 23, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound center who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft but failed to make Tampa’s 53-man roster.
On the one hand, he’s not unlike Conway in that he played extensively in college (starting 40 of 43 games at the University of Texas), yet he has a history of foot and ankle issues and is much more limited athletically, running a 5.4 40-yard-dash at a virtual Pro Day. He has been described as a college overachiever and has also been regarded as a high-character individual.
“Shackelford is as smart of an offensive lineman as I’ve been around,” Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman said earlier this year. “He made all the calls for our offensive line. He’s another guy that comes from a great home life. His dad is a military chaplain, and he grew up with a lot of structure and discipline. He’s a self-starter who is extremely strong and powerful, and just really knows how to play to his strengths.”
With starting center Maurkice Pouncey added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on the day of the Ravens game, Shackelford could get a look-see if the Steelers decide to sign him to the practice squad.
Steelers Lead the NFL in Pro Bowl Votes Received
Finally, if the Pro Bowl is a subject of interest to you, well, the Steelers let it be known on Thursday that they are the team with the most total Pro Bowl votes received.
Pittsburgh has three players who are the leading vote getters at their respective positions: outside linebacker T.J. Watt, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and long snapper Kameron Canaday.
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