Steelers G Fred Johnson, OLB Jay Elliott released; QB Paxton Lynch, RB Trey Edmunds promoted
Promising rookie guard Fred Johnson and journeyman outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott were released by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday afternoon. Running back Trey Edmunds and quarterback Paxton Lynch were promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man active roster.
Johnson was impressive in training camp as a mammoth undrafted rookie from Florida, and he is seen as a player with potential to be a future starter.
Elliott was signed in late August but was cut before the regular season began despite a strip sack and fumble return for a touchdown during the preseason finale at Carolina. But after the Steelers lost edge rusher Tuzar Skipper on waivers, they signed Elliott after Week 1.
“I think the guys are making it harder for me than it really is,” Elliott said as he packed up some belongings after practice Friday. “But I’m thankful for the opportunity.
“And from the response I’m getting upstairs (in the front office), they really seem like they’re serious about bringing me back. But this game moves so fast.”
Johnson also was told the Steelers would bring him back if he cleared waivers.
It’s not often an undrafted rookie starts the first preseason game (Fred Johnson was the only #Steelers player to do so Friday), and it’s not often ANY player starts and is still playing come the fourth quarter.https://t.co/BAvb4N6f9O
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) August 10, 2019
“You don’t go into this business thinking that you are safe,” the 6-foot-7, 326-pound Johnson said. “You feel me? You don’t (look at it like), ‘OK, ‘He told me that I am on waivers.’ If I look at it like, ‘I am getting cut, I (stink),’ that’s (different).
“I was undrafted. You are not gonna keep an undrafted dude when you need other people. Even though I could be starting somewhere. You’re not gonna keep an undrafted dude, so that’s what you do — you put him on waivers and hope that he clears. If he don’t clear, it’s better for him.
“I never look at the pot (half) empty; that (crap) is half full. So I got put on waivers. I could have been here playing (merely) being a backup for three, four more years, however long. So, you just understand the business. They need a quarterback, they need a running back. That stuff happens.”
That running back is Edmunds, who has spent most of the past year-plus on the Steelers practice squad, though he did appear in four late-season 2018 games. When this summer’s training camp shook out, Edmunds was No. 4 on the Steelers’ running backs depth chart behind James Conner, Jaylen Samuels and rookie Benny Snell.
But Samuels had a procedure performed on a knee Monday and will be out about a month, so the Steelers needed a running back.
They also apparently want more comfort at quarterback, with Mason Rudolph ruled out for Sunday’s game after having spent the week in concussion protocol. Devlin Hodges will to start Sunday, so bumping up former first-round pick Lynch from the practice squad adds depth and insurance.
Lynch, 25, started two games during each of his two seasons with the Denver Broncos after being drafted No. 26 overall in 2016. He was cut at the end of last year’s training camp and spent this past offseason with the Seattle Seahawks. After being among their final roster cuts, the Steelers added him to their practice squad Sept. 19.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .