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Steelers sign DT Cavon Walker, OT Jarron Jones, S Tyree Kinnel

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PITTSBURGH — The Steelers signed a trio of XFL products on Wednesday, supplementing their free-agency signings with two members of the New York Guardians — including the league’s sacks leader — and one alum of the DC Defenders.

The Steelers agreed to contracts with defensive tackle Cavon Walker, offensive tackle Jarron Jones and safety Tyree Kinnel. The positions filled are ones of need for the Steelers, who lost depth at all three spots during free agency with the departures of defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, offensive linemen Ramon Foster and B.J. Finney, and safety Sean Davis.

The Steelers have been open in the past to signing players from alternative football leagues, signing safety Kameron Kelly from the Alliance of American Football prior to last season. Kelly started one game for the Steelers but was released after he was arrested at a local bar late in the season.

In an interview with local beat writers in February, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said the team would be monitoring and evaluating the XFL for talent.

“The XFL has taken some of the guys we would have signed as futures [contracts],” Colbert said prior to the NFL scouting combine. “We’ll have to do more work on undrafted guys because of that. Traditionally, we sign about 15, but we might have to sign 20-22.”

“We got an initial feel for that group, and we’ll continue to monitor those teams throughout the season.”

Though the XFL season was shortened due to COVID-19, the Steelers saw enough to merit signing the trio of players.

Listed at 6-foot-2, 284 pounds, Walker led the XFL with 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits as a member of Guardians. The Maryland product went undrafted in 2018, but spent preseasons with the Bears and the Chiefs. Walker became the second defensive lineman added by the Steelers in free agency, joining former Baltimore DL Chris Wormley, who arrived in Pittsburgh via trade.

Jones, a Notre Dame product, spent training camp or preseason with the Bills, Cowboys, Giants and Seahawks, but couldn’t stick with any of them. He converted from defensive line to offensive line upon joining the Giants, and the much-needed reps as the Guardians’ left tackle should allow the the 6-6, 320-pound offensive tackle to compete for a roster spot in Pittsburgh.

Kinnel was the final signing of the group after his stint with the Defenders. Kinnel had 17 total tackles in the shortened season. After a Michigan career during which he had 170 tackles, two interceptions and one sack, Kinnel signed with the Bengals as a undrafted free agent in 2019 but was cut after training camp.

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Chase Claypool stretches Broncos defense, Steelers lead with 84-yard touchdown

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PITTSBURGH — Welcome to the NFL, Chase Claypool. The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie caught a deep pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in stride along the Broncos’ sideline at about the 45-yard line and outran the Broncos’ secondary to the end zone for an 84-yard touchdown — his first NFL touchdown.

The 84-yard reception is tied for the fourth-longest by a rookie in franchise history. Roethlisberger threw the ball 37 yards downfield. Big Ben had completed just 4 of his previous 20 passes of 30-plus air yards dating back to 2018.

The score was the only play of the Steelers drive that started at their own 16-yard-line after a would-be 81-yard punt return touchdown by Diontae Johnson was wiped off the board because of a block in the back penalty. The touchdown gave the Steelers a 14-3 lead.

In his Week 1 debut, Claypool, the Steelers’ second-round pick, caught a 28-yard pass from Roethlisberger on the sideline, registered as the week’s most improbable completion by NextGen Stats.

Claypool received tons of praise from coach Mike Tomlin, who is notorious for downplaying his rookies in training camp. But just two weeks into his pro career, the Candian-born Claypool, a Notre Dame product, is more than living up to the hype.



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Broncos QB Drew Lock exits game with injury to throwing shoulder

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In a season that has already been a difficult one in terms of injuries for the Denver Broncos, quarterback Drew Lock‘s name was added to the list Sunday.

Lock left the game with a right (throwing) shoulder injury with just under eight minutes remaining in the first quarter. Lock was sacked by Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree and fumbled on the play as he landed awkwardly on his right shoulder and arm.

Lock’s right shoulder was sagging slightly as he walked to the sideline and was taken into the medical tent on the Broncos sideline. He stayed in the tent throughout the next Steelers possession, but was then taken to the locker room as Jeff Driskel took over behind center.

Lock is just the latest of the Broncos’ front-line players to be injured as linebacker Von Miller (ankle) and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) are on injured reserve while running back Phillip Lindsay (toe) was inactive for Sunday’s game and is expected to missed another two to three weeks.

The Steelers had made their intentions known early in Sunday’s game with plenty of pressure packages against Lock early. Lock hit his first pass attempt of the game — a 20-yard completion to Courtland Sutton — but missed his next four attempts.

On the sack the Broncos weren’t able to slow down either Dupree or T.J. Watt. Watt tripped Lock up in the pocket, forcing him to scramble as Dupree, who had arrived unblocked, closed and put the hit on Lock.

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Raheem Mostert’s 80-yard TD helps Niners to fast start

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For the second week in a row, San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert offered some early game fireworks, going 80 yards for a touchdown against the New York Jets.

Last week, Mostert had a 76-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown on the Niners’ second offensive series against the Arizona Cardinals. On Sunday, Mostert didn’t wait nearly as long, as he burst off the right side of the offensive line on a simple toss play and raced 80 yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead just 17 seconds into the game.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Mostert is the first player on any team with multiple 75-yard scrimmage touchdown in the Niners’ first two games since Frank Gore in 2009.

In the process, Mostert reached a max speed of 23.09 miles per hour, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. That is the fastest speed by a ball carrier on a play from scrimmage over the last five seasons, topping the mark Mostert himself set last week when he hit 22.75 miles per hour on his touchdown catch.

On Friday, Mostert told ESPN he actually slowed down on the long touchdown catch but he had his sights set on breaking his own record quickly.

“I’m gonna try to (beat that speed) at least but I’m not gonna be strenuous about it because I know my speed,” Mostert said. “And I know my abilities, so I’m not gonna put too much, you know, stuff on me. I just go out there and just play man.”

Mostert has now scored a touchdown in eight consecutive games, the most by a 49er since Terrell Owens did it in 1998.



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