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J.C. Hassenauer of the Pittsburgh Steelers during training camp at Heinz Field on July 28, 2021.
The Pittsburgh Steelers signed two players on Christmas Day, two of the six roster changes the team made ahead of the Sunday afternoon showdown against the AFC’s No. 1 seeded Kansas City Chiefs. The specialists – Corliss Waitman and former Atlanta Falcons player Cameron Nizialek – were taken over because Pressley Harvin, newcomer to the seventh round, did not travel to Kansas City (personal reasons). It’s not yet clear whether Waitman or Nizialek will poke and / or hold against the Chiefs. Waitman was added to the 53-man roster, suggesting he is the lead candidate, but Nizialek has been activated from the practice team so he’s eligible to play too. Maybe a decision will be made on game day.
Meanwhile, the Steelers also activated offensive lineman J.C. Hassenauer from the injured reserve. Hassenauer, 26, has been on the IR since Nov. 27 after sustaining a chest injury against the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 21.
Hassenauer signed a one-year contract in March 2021 as the exclusive rights holder. He has played ten games for the Steelers this season, with one start. In 2020, he played 15 games, including four starts at the center instead of Maurkice Pouncey.
In addition, the Steelers removed three players from the training roster as COVID-19 replacements for Sunday’s game. These include offensive guard Rashaad Coward and running back Trey Edmunds, the latter of whom is well on the way to making his regular season debut in 2021.
Ready for his Steelers debut is veteran Edge ruser John Simon, who signed up for the Pittsburgh training team on December 13th. Simon, 31, has played two games this year, both with the Titans. He has a total of 99 games of NFL experience with 52 starts, most of them with the Houston Texans and New England Patriots.
After Sunday’s game against Kansas City, Coward, Edmunds and Simon will automatically return to the training roster without having to go through waivers.
Eventually wide receiver Steven Sims was added to the exercise team / COVID-19 reserve list, where he joins offensive guard Malcolm Pridgeon, who was added to the list on December 20th.
The Steelers also have five players on the Reserve / COVID-19 list, namely linebacker Marcus Allen, offensive tackle Zach Banner, defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs, linebacker Devin Bush and running back Anthony McFarland Jr.
The former Steeler’s running back James Conner had no chance of building on his already impressive stats from 2021 when the Arizona Cardinals took on the Indianapolis Colts on Christmas night. Conner was one of six Cardinals players who were inactive for the game.
In 2021, Conner has carried the ball 187 times for 700 yards with 14 roaring touchdowns. He also has 31 receptions for 334 yards and two touchdown catches. Conner missed all of his team’s workouts this week with a heel injury.
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