If the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the market for a backup running back after releasing LeGarrette Blount earlier Tuesday, they won't be looking in Cleveland. The Browns waived Ben Tate this morning, fueling speculation that the Steelers might be interested in picking up the fourth-year back to bolster their backfield corps for the final six weeks of the season. However, that rumor was quickly debunked by ESPN reporter Scott Brown, who heard that the Steelers have no interest in signing Tate.
Following the release of Blount, the only tailback on the Steelers active roster is rookie Dri Archer, who has played just 34 snaps and has eight carries for 41 yards this season. It appears that Pittsburgh would want to find a viable backup running back somewhere, but it seems increasingly likely it will come from within their own locker room. In addition to Archer, they have third-year back Josh Harris on the practice squad, though he has yet to play an offensive snap in the NFL.
Colts sign Cribbs
The Indianapolis Colts signed return specialist Josh Cribbs, according to multiple reports on Tuesday. The 31-year-old Cribbs was one of the NFL's most explosive returners during the prime of his career, with 11 return touchdowns in nine NFL seasons. That total includes eight kickoff return touchdowns, tied with Leon Washington for the most all-time. He also is a threat to both run and catch the ball, with 808 rushing yards and 1,167 receiving yards in 130 career games.
The three-time Pro Bowler played his first eight seasons in Cleveland and spent last year with the Jets, but had not been on an NFL roster in 2014. The Colts are ranked 25th in the NFL in punt return average at 7.2 yards/return.
Panthers cut Avant
The Carolina Panthers released wide receiver Jason Avant on Tuesday, two days after he called out the coaching staff for its questionable play calling during the loss to the Atlanta Falcons. However, coach Ron Rivera quickly dismissed any connection between Avant's departure and his postgame comments, according to ESPN NFL Nation reporter David Newton.
Avant had primarily been used in the slot this season, catching 21 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown. His release likely means that rookie Philly Brown will take over the No. 3 receiver role. Brown has played well in limited snaps for the Panthers, including a 47-yard touchdown reception on Sunday and a 66-yard, 7-catch performance in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Injury news and notes
The Philadelphia Eagles placed safety Earl Wolff on injured reserve Tuesday with a knee injury. Wolff, who hurt his knee last season, has been inactive the last two games and struggled in his lone start this season.
The San Diego Chargers announced that offensive lineman Jeromey Clary will remain on the team's Reserve/PUP list, officially ending his season. The nine-year veteran had offseason hip surgery and was placed on the PUP list in late August.
The Arizona Cardinals put tight end Troy Niklas on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his rookie campaign. Niklas missed most of the offseason with a broken finger and then suffered a sprained ankle during the first month, playing in just 85 snaps this season.
The Panthers placed right tackle Nate Chandler on injured reserve with a meniscus tear in his right knee. Chandler had started all 11 games for Carolina this season.