The Pittsburgh Steelers inked seven of the practice squad players to reserve/futures contracts according to the team’s official website. The seven players Pittsburgh’s brass signed to the deal are:
RB Alvester Alexander, WR Justin Brown, WR Kashif Moore, OG Bryant Browning, OG Chris Hubbard, ILB Kion Wilson and S Ross Ventrone
Alexander should receive a shot to compete for a roster spot next fall, and could be in line to snag one if the team does not sign Felix Jones and LaRod Stephens-Howling to new deals this spring.
I am particularly intrigued to see where Justin Brown fits into this team’s long-term plans. After a solid 2013 preseason, Brown spent the entirety of his rookie season on the practice squad. A big-framed receiver with punt return skills, Brown should be able to make Pittsburgh’s 53-man roster in 2014 if he continues to develop and beats out fellow reserve/future contract signee Kashif Moore.
Guards Bryant Browning and Chris Hubbard could face plenty of competition during the upcoming spring and summer. Not only will Nik Embernate return from the knee injury he suffered during training camp, Pittsburgh’s brass could be primed to bring back Fernando Velasco and Cody Wallace as backups at center and guard.
Kion Wilson was on-and-off of Pittsburgh roster throughout the 2013 campaign. Due to Larry Foote biceps injury, Wilson played in seven games for the Steelers and started two at Foote’s ‘buck’ spot. Unfortunately for the former South Florida Bull, he lost playing time and his roster spot to the likes of Vince Williams, Terence Garvin and Stevenson Sylvester.
Ventrone could factor into Pittsburgh’s 2014 plans if the team elects to let Will Allen and Ryan Clark walk during the free agency period. Of course, the former Villanova Wildcat will have to beat out Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden and a rookie or two for backup and special teams roles if he wants to stay.