SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 30: Justin Peelle #81 of the San Francisco 49ers is hit by Chris Gocong #51 and Usama Young #28 of the Cleveland Browns at Candlestick Park on October 30, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
As expected, FB/TE David Johnson was placed on the Waived/Injured list Monday, the result of a torn ACL suffered in the Steelers' 24-23 loss at Philadelphia in their opening preseason game.
To replace him, they signed veteran blocking TE Justin Peele, a 10-year NFL veteran who last played sparingly with San Francisco.
Johnson's designation exposes him to waivers, and gives teams a chance to sign him. If no one does, his rights return to Pittsburgh, who then place him on Injured Reserve.
During the preseason, players must clear waivers before being placed on the IR. It's extremely unlikely anyone would claim him.
Used almost exclusively as a blocker in 2 TEs sets, Peelle has 123 career catches and 12 touchdowns in 10 NFL seasons.
He wouldn't be expected to make the roster as it sits now, but bringing in more competition for a pure tight end isn't a bad idea, considering the Steelers are now without Johnson as well as Weslye Saunders, who will sit out the first four games of the 2012 season. Heath Miller and 2012 free agent signee Leonard Pope are likely at the top of the depth chart now, while the possibility of Jamie McCoy or even rookie David Paulsen sneaking out a spot is still alive.
McCoy's inexperience despite some position flexibility (he played some fullback against Philadelphia) could be the main reason why Peelle was brought in.