The Pittsburgh Steelers made two transactions on Wednesday. Neither should carry much significance in the grand scheme of things for the Steelers in 2011. Firstly, running back Frank Summers signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers. A fifth round pick in the 2009 draft, Summers looked like he might become a fan favorite early in his career. Fans love a big, bruising guy, and after we heard that Mike Tomlin was high on the UNLV product, we envisioned the massive Summers making devastating hits on special teams and improving the team's previously inconsistent power running game.
Things didn't quite turn out that way for 'The Tank.' After making the team and playing in the first two games at fullback during his rookie season in '09, Summers was shut down for the year and placed on Injured Reserve after suffering a back injury that ultimately required surgery. As is so often the case in the brutally competitive NFL, a setback like that as a rookie dooms a player even when he's returned to health. Summers lost a training camp battle during 2010 training camp to a new incoming rookie, Jonathan Dwyer. Summers spent the '10 season on the Steelers' practice squad, never receiving the opportunity for a 'call up' thanks to Mendenhall, Redman and Mewelde Moore staying healthy all year.
Anyway, Summers was probably wise in his decision to decline signing a contract with the Steelers after this season. With Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Dwyer all ahead of him on the depth chart, it would have been an uphill battle to say the least for Summers to have made the team and seen the field. In San Diego though, Summers might be a nice change of pace from Ryan Matthews and the speedy but flyspeck Darren Sproles.
The Steelers also re-signed Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith, a defensive back who joined Summers on the practice squad this season. I'm trying to think of something insightful to say about Cromartie-Smith, but I'm drawing a blank. I do recall the undrafted free agent out of UTEP had some nice moments during last year's camp and preseason. You never know, Cromartie-Smith may be more mentally equipped to make a run at a roster spot this year after spending a season doing little else but learning his craft and immersing himself wholly in an NFL-caliber strength and conditioning program. We'll see.
Congratulations to him on the contract, and best of luck to Summers in San Diego. Go Steelers!