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Steelers Release Green, Warren

Find out what the sudden releases of Ladarius Green and Greg Warren mean to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Scott Orndoff, come on down.

Colin Holba, the surprise sixth-round draft pick, you're on the spot.

Those two Pittsburgh Steelers rookies have been thrust into the spotlight today upon a pair of failed physicals Thursday by tight end Ladarius Green and long-snapper Greg Warren.

The latter, Warren, wasn't the surprise that Green was. Rumors had been rife on draft day that the Steelers had little faith in Warren making it back for a 13th season. It explained the drafting of Holba in the sixth round.

During the scouting season, Holba (6-4, 248) showed size, blocking skills and the necessary mobility to cover punts and was regarded by scouts as the consensus No. 1 long-snapper in the draft. He didn't make a bad snap in two years on the job at Louisville. 

The Louisville native also played in one game as a sophomore after failing to make the Cardinals as a freshman.

Warren leaves the Steelers with only two players -- Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison -- from the 2005 championship season, which was Warren's rookie 

He played in the Super Bowl at the end of that season but missed the Super Bowl following the 2008 season. He played seven games that season before suffering a knee injury. He also missed two games in 2009, but otherwise played in all 181 regular-season and 15 playoff games.

“I had full intentions of playing this upcoming season, but in light of new information I've recently received from my doctors relating to a past injury, it has been determined that trying to compete in the 2017 season may be a risk to my long-term health," Warren said in a team statement. "After discussing this with the Steelers, we have decided it would be in everyone's best interest to release me at this point.”

“Greg has been a big part of our past success, and we would like to thank him for his contributions and wish him nothing but the best,” Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said.

The Steelers specialists -- placekicker Chris Boswell and punter Jordan Berry -- spent their first two professional seasons under Warren's guidance, and look to return the favor for the rookie Holba.

The surprising news of the day was the release of Green. 

Even though the 6-6 pass catcher played only six games last season because of concussion issues, Green was expected to recover and return. Perhaps the fact the Steelers didn't draft a tight end from among a rich college crop caused the raised expectations for Green.

However, Green failed the physical and was released, saving the Steelers $2.625 million against the cap. He had signed a four-year $20 million contract as a free agent prior to last season. 

Green came to the team with an ankle that was healing slowly and lingering concussion issues. He was placed on the PUP list and returned for a Nov. 13 game against Dallas. He played in the next six games before suffering another concussion in a brutal game at Cincinnati that knocked him out of the rest of the season, including the three playoff games.

Green caught 18 passes for 304 yards for the Steelers' $4.75 million bonus and $1.25 million salary last season. His best game was against the New York Giants with six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.

The Steelers passed on drafting quality tight ends late in the fourth round to select quarterback Joshua Dobbs. Tight ends Jake Butt, George Kittle and Jordan Leggett were then chosen within the first six picks of the fifth round.

The Steelers passed at the position entirely, but did sign Orndoff -- the Pitt tight end from Waynesburg -- after the draft. The 6-4, 253-pounder is quality blocker, and that's what the Steelers lacked most out of the group last season. 

Orndoff did catch 35 passes for 579 yards and five touchdowns last season, giving him 58 catches for 897 yards (15.5 avg.) and 13 touchdowns in his Pitt career.

Orndoff falls in line behind third-year man Jesse James, veteran H-back David Johnson and 6-2, 261-pound second-year man Xavier Grimble, who showed flashes of playmaking skills in his first season off the practice squad. 

Grimble started two games and caught 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns last season.

The Steelers also signed 6-8, 251-pound rookie Phazahn Odom after his tryout at last weekend's minicamp. The tall, thin Odom caught 56 passes for 740 yards (13.2 avg.) and nine touchdowns at Fordham. His best season was 2015 when he caught 37-492-7.

The Steelers have only five tight ends heading into the start of OTAs next week. Perhaps the drafting of wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is a sign the Steelers plan to use more three and four-receiver sets this season.

The Steelers also announced the signing of running back Terrell Watson, who spent his undrafted rookie season on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad in 2015. Last year he split time on three practice squads before being promoted to the Philadelphia Eagles active roster in Week 17 (9 rushes, 28 yards, touchdown). 

Watson is a 6-1, 236-pounder out of Azusa Pacific. He rushed for nearly 6,000 yards and scored 79 touchdowns in breaking every school rushing record previously held by Christian Okoye. At Watson's 2015 pro day he ran a 4.55 40 with a vertical jump of 35.5 inches and 22 bench reps. 

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