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Steelers release 8 players, place 2 on Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released 8 players and placed two key offensive players on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have announced major roster cuts in order to get down to the 80-man limit for when practices begin. Teams have the option to keep 90 players temporarily if they spread out their practice in between two facilities, so a hard deadline to trim the roster was not set by the NFL.

In the team cutting their roster from 90 players to 80, they also were forced to place James Washington and Jaylen Samuels on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. As a reminder, being placed on this list does not necessarily mean one, or either, player has tested positive, but could be merely they were exposed to someone who was positive and are being kept away for precautionary reasons.

Samuels and Washington aren’t the first players to find their way onto the Reserve/COVID List. Just last week second year cornerback Justin Layne was added to the reserve list, and Aaron Springs was placed on the list prior. In case you haven’t seen the policy on how, and when, players find their way onto the list:

The NFL created the reserve/COVID-19 list for a player who either tests positive for COVID-19 or who has been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person(s). If a player falls into either of these categories, their club is required to immediately place the player on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Per agreed upon NFL-NFLPA policy, clubs are not permitted to comment on player’s medical status other than referring to roster status. Clubs may not disclose whether player is in quarantine or is positive for COVID 19.

The other players who were released by the Steelers make up a combination of players from the XFL, undrafted rookie free agents, and players who have tried to stick at various places around the NFL. The Steelers released quarterback J.T. Barrett, cutting the number of players in the room to four.

Three players who were cut have been with the Steelers in previous seasons. Linebacker/long snapper Christian Kuntz spent the 2019 training camp in Latrobe while running back Ralph Webb spent part of the 2019 season on the Steelers practice squad. Wide receiver Quadree Henderson finished the 2019 season on the Steelers practice squad after spending time with the Steelers previously.

Two of the players released were undrafted in 2020 and signed by the Steelers in April. Offensive lineman Christian Montano and defense end Josiah Coatney were two players hoping to be a ’diamond in the rough’ who caught on with the Steelers after going undrafted.

Safety Tyree Kennell and Dwayne Hendrix came to the Steelers via the XFL along with the aforementioned Christian Kuntz.

Although the players have been released by the Steelers, training camp is usually a period of time when players come and go in order to stick on an NFL roster or practice squad. While it is not beyond the realm of possibility these players could return, the Steelers will also need to make other cuts when players come off of the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.