PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Steelers trimmed their roster to 79 players a couple of days prior to Tuesday’s league-mandated deadline of 75 players.
The Steelers have placed offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins on the Reserve/Injured List, while quarterback Dustin Vaughan has been Waived/Injured. In addition, the team has released linebackers Jordan Zumwalt and Mike Reilly, wide receivers Issac Blakeney and Levi Norwood, tight end Michael Cooper, defensive end Giorgio Newberry, defensive tackle Khaynin Mosley-Smith, and cornerback Julian Whigham.
Hawkins going on IR likely means the fourth-round draft pick will miss a valuable season of practice under Mike Munchak, but by releasing a player who most likely wouldn't have helped them while on "scholarship," the Steelers created more roster flexibility for their final 53.
Vaughan broke his thumb in the second preseason game and leaves the No. 3 battle at QB to be fought between Bruce Gradkowski -- out with an injured hamstring -- and the recent acquisition, strong-armed Bryn Renner.
The Steelers have always kept three quarterbacks under Mike Tomlin.
The release of Zumwalt is a sad one. The classy 2014 sixth-round draft pick battled back this summer from a hip injury that altered what had been a promising start to a pro linebacking career. Zumwalt returned following two years on IR only to find the ILB position stacked. The Steelers moved him outside this camp and, while he improved noticeably, was out of position as an on-the-line pass-rusher.
The Steelers must reduce their roster to 75 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday.