Ray Graham Signed to Practice Squad, George Winn Released

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

 

Well, it’s official. After the Pittsburgh Steelers worked out Ray Graham earlier today, they deemed him fit to ink to their practice squad according to Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest:

 

 

I for one applaud the move, especially since a team can never have too much depth at the running back position. With practice squad eligibility left, Graham will join Alvester Alexander on the eight-man squad now that George Winn has been released. This is a solid under-the-radar signing for the Steelers, especially since they can stash a versatile back like Graham with the potential to succeed running behind a zone-blocking scheme on their practice squad.

As some of you already know, Graham was in the midst of a successful junior season back in 2011 at Pitt before a right knee injury cost the running back the remainder of the year. To his credit, Graham rushed for 1,042 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Panthers last fall, and even added 36 catches for 340 yards and two scores to boot.

In addition to his rushing and receiving skills, Graham also succeeded as a kickoff returner early in his career at Pitt. Overall, Graham totaled 838 yards during his first two years with the Panthers, and his return skills could come in handy at the professional level.

Despite his success in college, Graham went undrafted but was signed by the Houston Texans and spent all of this season on their practice squad and 53-man roster until he was released by the franchise earlier this week.

I am certainly intrigued to see what Pittsburgh’s newest acquisition can bring to the table, especially if he can find his way into the mix on special teams or at the running back position if he is signed to the 53-man roster at some point.

 

 

 

 

 

Stats & Contract Info. Provided By: ESPN.comNFL.comSteelers.com , Spotrac, and Pro Football Reference

 

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Topics: George Winn, Pittsburgh Steelers, Ray Graham

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  • skyfire322

    I don’t watch a lot of college ball, but when I did and saw Graham, I always thought he’d fit the Steelers mold. It’s also a plus, because he’d be a hometown favorite.

  • Nick Kelly

    Can’t hurt at all. I was hoping the Steelers could get him in the late rounds or sign him. Guess I got my wish. But hey, in my opinion, with Dwyer and Bell, the running game is looking very solid right now.

    • Dom DiTolla

      I thought they’d take a chance on him in the later rounds as well. Of course, I never assumed that they’d waste the 48th overall pick on a running back with so many talented inside linebackers, outside linebackers, safeties, and wide receivers still on the board.

      Good fit if they move to a zone-blocking scheme, and should be able to chip in on special teams and receiving out of the backfield if he gets to play (assuming he is 100% back from his knee injury).

      • Nick Kelly

        But then again, the Steelers might not look that dumb for taking Bell if Vince Williams turns into a reliable starter. He is honestly the guy I am most interested in seeing develop.

        • Dom DiTolla

          Make no mistake, I’m excited to see what Vince Williams can do as he continues to develop.

          But taking a back of Bell’s caliber with the 48th overall pick with so many talented safeties, outside linebackers, wide receivers, and cornerbacks available at that juncture and quality running backs like Andre Ellington and Zac Stacy who could have been had much later while they filled another important need was a joke.

          Call me a “Negative Nancy,” but I’d like to see a running back average more than 3.1 yards per carry and display some speed and toughness running near the goal line if they are selected with the 48th overall pick.

          • Nick Kelly

            Alright “negative nancy” you asked for it! I agree taking Bell over Lacy was interesting, but don’t put down Bell as a bust quite yet. Yes, his average per carry isn’t great, but in my opinion, that has a lot to do with the offensive line. Other than DeCastro, the Steelers really have no “threats” for run blockers. Beachum is a sub-par run blocker, as well as Velasco, and Gilbert and Foster are average in the run blocking department. And bringing that stat down as well is the fact Swinging Gate Whimper (As you like to call him) has played guard, playing so bad in the run blocking department. I agree the pick of Le’Veon Bell was a head scratcher in round 2, but don’t write him off yet. You get Pouncey back, as well as a left tackle that can run block, and Mike Adams who I think will be taking over for Marcus Gilbert next season, you have a very good run blocking offensive line.

          • Dom DiTolla

            First of all, I’m not labeling Bell a “bust.” I simply have yet to see him display a skill-set which illustrates that he can be anything more than a decent back in a rotation. He’s a nice offensive player for Roethlisberger to have at his disposal, but not somebody who can carry the entire load of the running game without help.

            His lack of breakaway speed, inability to break runs to the second-level with consistency, and inconsistent ability to drive the pile in short yardage situations will make him nothing more than a rotational back. I’m not writing him off, but the Steelers will need others to compliment him to make up for his deficiencies down the road. Total reach at #48.

            Also, guys like Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore and Rashard Mendenhall found measures of success behind even worse and more makeshift offensive lines, so that “poor O-Line” notion only goes so far.