Gilbert to IR, Spillane to active roster … and Spillane can play


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Robert Spillane. – MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Tuesday, the Steelers placed rookie inside linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III on the reserved/injured list and promoted Robert Spillane from the practice squad to the active roster.

Gilbert, the third of the Steelers' three sixth-round selections in the 2019 NFL Draft, has dealt with a back injury in recent weeks. While he hasn't seen the field on defense this season, he's contributed 148 total snaps on special teams, including 15 snaps in the team's most recent win over the Colts at Heinz Field.

Spillane will be expected to fill this role immediately — and he has the skills to slide in seamlessly.

Last season, Spillane was signed by the Titans as an undrafted free agent, logging 20 special teams snaps in two regular-season games before being cut. Spillane made a run at the Steelers' 53-man roster throughout training camp and OTAs but eventually landed on the practice squad, where he's continued to work and grow.

“The scouts did a good job watching him at Tennessee and (Mike) Vrabel is a good coach,” Steelers inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky told our Dale Lolley of Spillane back in August. “He does a lot of things proficiently. And he makes a lot of plays. It’s great. You just want to see guys control the game. He loves it. He talks about working out with his brother. It’s just a great thing. When you like something and you succeed in it and you work in it, that’s fun to do.”

Our Chris Carter wrote an in-depth breakdown of Spillane's skills on display in the Steelers' 30-28 victory over the Buccaneers during Week 1 of the preseason.

"When Spillane had to cover over the middle, he did so as smoothly as if he were a seasoned veteran," Carter wrote.

The Steelers won't ask Spillane to challenge Devin Bush or Mark Barron or Vince Williams for playing time. They're set there. What they need is a responsible special-teamer who will understand and fill his assignments every snap — and there, Spillane is certainly capable.

In another roster move Tuesday, the Steelers released Darrin Hall from the practice squad and added wide receiver Terry Wright and tight end Kevin Rader.

Wright, a 5-foot-10 rookie who signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent and has spent time on their practice squad, played college football at Purdue, where he was also a sprinter on their track team.

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