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Duplicate numbers can cause confusion during Steelers preseason games

It’s difficult enough figuring out which players are making a splash in a preseason game, but multiple players wearing the same number just makes it even harder.

Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Did Dan Moore Jr. just get a sack? I thought he was an offensive lineman.

I thought Anthony McFarland was a running back. What’s he doing intercepting a pass?

These are common phrases uttered by Steelers fans in the heat of the moment as they tried to discern which players were involved in certain plays during the Hall of Fame game on Thursday night. When having almost 90 players on the roster, it’s difficult enough to try to figure out who each player is. Add in the fact the Steelers have several sets of duplicate numbers on the team at this moment and the knee-jerk reaction to a play can leave some Steelers fan scratching their head.

Is it really difficult to tell which players are making the plays whenever there is a duplicate number? Although they are separated into an offensive player and a defensive player, sometimes it’s tricky when either one could be on the field during special teams. In fact, even the NFL‘s own official stat breakdowns may have confused several players throughout the game.

So who are these duplicate numbers, and how can we tell them apart? Here are the 11 (that’s right, 11) sets of current duplicate numbers on the Steelers training camp roster:


#17: Isaiah McKoy & Mark Gilbert

Was the same player who was targeted with a pass on offense break up two passes on defense? No, it was wide receiver Isaiah McKoy failing to bring in the one pass thrown his way on Thursday night with cornerback Mark Gilbert getting to passes defensed late in the game. But if they’re both on special teams, they’re not that easy to tell apart. McKoy is 2 inches taller and 25 pounds larger than Gilbert, but that’s hard to tell on TV.

#24: Benny Snell Jr. & Lamont Wade

This one was easy to tell apart in the Hall of Fame Game as Benny Snell was out due to injury. So whenever you saw number 24, it was UDFA Lamont Wade. If Snell does return this preseason, he is significantly larger than Wade although the two are around the same height.

#26: Anthony McFarland Jr. & Donovan Stiner

No, Anthony McFarland did not have an interception in the Hall of Fame Game. Instead, he had three carries on 9 yards with one reception for 6 yards. It was Donovan Stiner who picked off the pass in the second half. As for when they’re on special teams, I’m not convinced the NFL got it right in saying McFarland had a tackle as it likely could’ve been Stiner. It would be surprising if they got this wrong as Steiner has 6 inches on the Steelers 5’8” running back.

#29: Kalan Ballage & Shakur Brown

This one might have been the most difficult when it came to special teams. Was it Ballage or Brown who was continually making plays? Or was it both players making their mark and looking even better since they both were the same number? I can tell you it was Ballage who found the end zone. These two would be easy to tell the different side by side as Ballage has 4 inches and 40 pounds on Brown.

#33: Trey Edmunds & Calvin Bundage

These two players are almost impossible to tell apart other than Edmunds hair. Listed as the same height and only 2 pounds difference, it could have been either player on the field on special teams.

#38: Jaylen Samuels & Stephen Denmark

While Jaylen Samuels carried the ball 11 times, Stephen Denmark also had a pass break up in the game. It could have been either player on special teams has Denmark is only 2 inches taller while Samuels is slightly higher in the weight department.

#40: Tony Brooks-James & Tegray Scales

I don’t recall seeing a number 40 stand out at all on Thursday night, so it may not have made a difference. But sCales is the slightly larger player then Brooks–James.

#44: Derek Watt & Jamir Jones

This one may have got me during the game, and it was during the special teams period. While Derek Watt was not listed as a player who did not see the field according to the NFL stats, plays on special teams could have been either him or Jones. There is not a lot of difference in size with Jones only being slightly larger.

#51: Trai Turner & Buddy Johnson

This one is unusual as both players are projected to make the 53-man roster yet share the same number. But if you’re confusing guard Trai Turner with linebacker Buddy Johnson, you’ll probably quickly notice your mistake. The two players should not be playing anywhere close to the same position, and Turner has 80 pounds on the rookie.

#61: Aviante Collins & T.J. Carter

Another number in the category of “I didn’t really notice it,” telling the difference between T.J. Carter and Aviante Collins has to come strictly on which side of the ball they are playing. Both players are almost identical in size but I don’t know how much either contributed on special teams.

#65: Dan Moore Jr. & Abdullah Anderson

This is one of the numbers where I noticed both players at various times in the game. Luckily, it was either on offense or defense as Moore performed well on the offensive line and Anderson notched a sack. The two are similar in size with Moore being slightly larger.

#67: B.J. Finney & Calvin Taylor

No, B.J. Finney was not playing defense. Like many of the offensive and defensive linemen, these players mainly stick on the same side of the ball and aren’t making huge plays on special teams constantly. But if you want a big difference, it’s difficult to miss Taylor at 6‘9“.


So there are the sets of duplicate numbers on the Steelers roster during the Hall of Fame Game. While many of these players are different enough to tell which one was making a play, there really were some tricky situations on special teams. If these players can continue to shine and make the Steelers roster or practice squad, they should finally be getting a number of their very own.