Steelers Work Out ‘Rangy’ Ex-Packers, Sooners Linebacker

Curtis Bolton

Will Newton/Getty Images Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens runs in front of Curtis Bolton of the Green Bay Packers during a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 15, 2019.

Former Green Bay Packers and Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Curtis Bolton, 25, has made a career of exceeding expectations. Bolton is one of two unrestricted free agents the Pittsburgh Steelers worked out on Friday, along with defensive back T.J. Morrison.

According to veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson, the team also had a visit with former Ohio State offensive guard Malcolm Pridgeon.


Bolton’s Final Season at Oklahoma Put Him on Green Bay’s Radar Screen

Notably, Curtis Bolton failed to live up to his potential during his first three collegiate seasons, when his production was limited to 16 total tackles (12 solo) during the 20 games in which he appeared. After he suffered a season-ending ankle injury early in his junior year, the NFL seemed an even more distant dream. But he beat out a five-star recruit, Caleb Kelly, to win the team’s weakside linebacker job during his last year in school and the 6-foot-1, 228 pounder went on put up eye-popping numbers. That includes 139 total tackles (58 solo), with 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries.

That got the attention of the Green Bay Packers, who signed him with a $7,000 signing bonus after he went unselected in the 2019 NFL Draft, having hosted him with one of its 30 pre-draft visits.

In training camp that year he did not disappoint. “In fact, Bolton was one of the team’s best defenders throughout the first three games of the preseason and almost certainly would have made the 53-man roster had he avoided injury,” noted Zach Kruse of USA Today’s Packers Wire, making reference to the torn ACL that Bolton suffered during Green Bay’s third preseason game.

Bolton vowed to come back “hungrier than ever.”

But he was placed on Green Bay’s Physically Unable to Perform list to start the 2020 season, only to be released by the Packers in October, at which point he joined the practice squad of the Houston Texans. He signed a Reserve/Future contract with the Texans in January but was released in March, which led to a minicamp tryout with the Atlanta Falcons.

The big question is whether Bolton has been able to fully recover from his knee injury. If he can regain the form he showed with the Packers in the summer of 2019 he offers intriguing potential.

“I think I’ve shown how rangy I am,” he told SI.com during his time in Green Bay. “I’m able to man cover out of the backfield and I feel like I’m an excellent blitzer from off the edge or the interior. I think I’ve got a good combination of speed and power.”


T.J. Morrison Got a Look From the Raiders

As for the other defender who worked out for the Steelers on Friday, that would be former Stony Brook defensive back T.J. Morrison, who is 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds. In 40 games for the Seawolves, he amassed 109 total tackles (85 solo), with five tackles for loss, two interceptions, 18 passes defensed, one sack and one fumble recovery.

He signed with the Las Vegas Raiders after Stony Brook’s spring season but was waived in mid-June.


Malcolm Pridgeon was a COVID-19 Opt-Out

Last but not least, the Steelers visited with former Ohio State offensive guard Malcom Pridgeon—6-foot-6, 322 pounds—who was a starter for the Buckeyes in 2018. After going undrafted in 2019, he signed with the Houston Texans and later joined the Cleveland Browns, only to opt-out of the 2020 season and get released in February of this year.

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