Steelers Turn Back the Clock on Recent Practice Squad Transactions

Cam Heyward

Stacy Revere/Getty Images Cameron Heyward of the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 3, 2021, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

During his postgame press conference following Thursday’s 36-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said the team “would turn over every stone” between now and the team’s next game to be better going forward.

For now, Steelers fans will have to make do with the organization simply turning back the clock on a series of practice squad transactions. Much like using the System Restore utility on a Windows computer to restore to an earlier date, on Friday December 10 the Steelers released punter Drue Chrisman and long snapper Rex Sunahara from the practice squad and replaced them with wide receiver Tyler Vaughns and cornerback Linden Stephens.

In effect, the Steelers reversed the transactions completed exactly 48 hours earlier, when the team added Chrisman and Sunahara and released Vaughns and Stephens.

No doubt the Steelers wanted to have an extra punter and long snapper close at hand in case COVID-19 sidelined either Pressley Harvin III or Christian Kuntz while on the road, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mike Tomlin & Co. engaged in similar maneuvers before the end of the season.

At the moment, Pittsburgh has just one player on its Reserve/COVID-19 list, that being offensive lineman Joe Haeg. But NFL players are being sidelined by COVID-19 every day. For example, on Saturday Houston placed former Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels on its practice squad Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Meanwhile, Detroit placed ex-Steelers cornerback Mark Gilbert on its Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Gilbert signed with Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft, but the Lions lifted him off the Steelers’ practice squad on October 12, 2021. He went on to play a pivotal role in helping the Lions preserve a tie against the Steelers at Heinz Field a month later, ending Detroit’s 13-game losing streak.

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Cam Heyward is Pittsburgh’s Walton Payton Man of The Year Nominee

On Saturday the Steelers announced that defensive captain Cam Heyward has been named the team’s Walton Payton Man of the Year Award nominee for 2021. It’s the fourth time that Heyward has been nominated in the course of his 11-year career, but he has yet to win the award, which recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service, as well as on-the-field excellence.

“There’s not a box that he doesn’t check,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “From a quality of play standpoint, from a quality leadership standpoint, from a guy that does things right inside this building and outside this building. He’s just a blueprint for young players.”

The 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during a primetime awards special to air the Thursday before Super Bowl LVI. All 32 nominees receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the award receives a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice.

The last Steelers player to win the award was Jerome Bettis (2001). Lynn Swann, Joe Greene and Franco Harris have also been so honored.

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Steelers Fans Can Help Heyward Win Nationwide’s Charity Challenge

Already underway is Nationwide’s 7th Annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to promote the 32 Man of the Year Award nominees.

Steelers fans are encouraged to vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by Heyward’s last name:

#WPMOYChallenge Heyward or #WPMOYChallenge @CamHeyward

The nominee whose unique hashtag is used the most between December 7, 2021 and January 17, 2022, will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, respectively.

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